Turkey is running for a seat on the UN Security Council, but Cyprus said on Tuesday that the presence of Turkey, if it is elected, would be "very problematic" for the decision-making body.
"It is very difficult for us to accept the presence (on the council) of a country that has thousands of troops on Cyprus," Cypriot UN Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis said, referring to the estimated 40,000 Turkish troops based on the Turkish Cypriot northern part of the Mediterranean island.
Mavroyiannis said Turkey is opposed to maintaining the UN peacekeeping operation on Cyprus, which since 1974 has been handling a ceasefire line separating the two ethnic communities, the Turkish in the north and Greek in the south. The mandate of the UN peace mission has been renewed every six months by the council.
The UN General Assembly will elect in October five new members to replace five outgoing ones on the 15-nation council and Turkey is one of the candidates.
There was no immediate response from Turkey to Mavroyiannis' remarks, which were made at a news conference held by newly appointed Greek Cypriot spokesman Stefanos Stefanou, who visited UN headquarters in New York to get acquainted with officials, including the UN undersecretary general for political affairs, B Lynn Pascoe.
Stefanou said preparatory talks in past months held by working and technical groups set up by the two sides failed to achieve progress needed to close the gaps created by more than three decades of division on Cyprus.
Stefanou blamed the deadlock on the lack of mutual understanding and because the two sides "do not speak the same language”.
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat are to meet May 23 to try to discuss progress made so far and prospects for the resumption of full-fledged negotiations to end the division and form a federation of the two communities.
Stefanou expressed the wish of his government to see a "united Cyprus republic" in which the two sides live peacefully and are in charge of their own destiny.
Greek Cypriots have called on Turkey to withdraw its troops from the Turkish Cypriot side as part of the solution. But Stefanou said the island must be demilitarised, including the removal at a later date of a British-led garrison in the Greek Cypriot part.
Stefanou said Turkey holds the key for ending the division on Cyprus.
"Turkey must change its position on Cyprus in order to allow a mutually accepted solution," Stefanou said.