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Published: Saturday February 22, 2014 MYT 8:20:06 AM
Updated: Saturday February 22, 2014 MYT 8:20:06 AM

Junior coalition partner poised to quit Cyprus government

NICOSIA (Reuters) - A junior partner in Cyprus's centre-right government said on Saturday it was poised to quit the coalition in disagreement over a decision to restart peace talks on the ethnically split island.

A spokeswoman for the Democratic Party said members of its executive committee decided to recommend to its key decision-making body withdrawal from the government, which it has been a member of for a year. The central committee of the Democratic Party was scheduled to meet on February 26 to discuss the recommendation.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, the Greek Cypriot leader, and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu relaunched stalled peace talks on the island on February 11 in an attempt to end one of Europe's longest-running conflicts.

The Democratic Party, which has typically taken a hard line in reunification talks, has been highly critical of what it describes as concessions towards the Turkish Cypriot community in a joint statement the two leaders agreed upon as a roadmap to negotiations.

"There are so many important concessions, that the Turkish side has achieved most of its aspirations even before negotiations have actually started," the executive committee of the Democratic Party said in a statement.

The party has 4 ministers in the 11-member cabinet, including the energy and defence portfolios. If its central committee confirms the party's withdrawal the government will have to carry out a cabinet reshuffle.

Cyprus was split after a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a Greek-inspired coup by supporters of union of the island with Greece.

Both sides agree in principle on uniting the island as a two-zone federation, but there are deep-rooted differences on how it will work in practice.

The Democratic Party maintains that the joint statement accords sovereignty to Turkish Cypriots, a sensitive issue since a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in northern Cyprus is recognised only by Ankara.

An internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government represents the island in the European Union, where it has veto rights over Turkey's aspirations to join the bloc.

(Reporting By Michele Kambas; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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