ANKARA, Turkey — A Turkish foreign ministry official said Thursday that reunifying Cyprus as a federation may not be possible and suggested that alternatives should be sought to resolve the island's decades-long ethnic division.
Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy's remarks could signal a major shift from long-established parameters that have steered negotiations for four decades.
Aksoy faulted the "Greek Cypriots' mindset" for the collapse of numerous rounds of peace talks that he said have turned into a "vicious circle." The latest negotiations failure occurred at a Swiss resort nearly a year ago.
"It is not possible to reach a federal solution with the Greek Cypriots' mindset," Aksoy said. "We believe that it is time to try a new way."
Aksoy didn't elaborate on what those alternatives could be.
Negotiations parameters envision two zones separately administered by Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots unifying under a jointly-run federal structure.
Those parameters have been in place since Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey sent in troops following a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence in the island's northern third where it keeps more than 35,000 troops.
Cyprus government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said the fact that Cyprus remains divided is less about any "mindset" than the fact that Turkey continues to partly occupy Cyprus and seeks to maintain a troop presence and military intervention rights as part of any peace accord.
"Turkey, which militarily occupies part of the Cyprus republic's territory, can't bemoan the continuation of the Cyprus problem for which it is responsible," Prodromou told The Associated Press.
Prodromou said the island's Greek Cypriot President, Nicos Anastasiades, continues to strive for the resumption of peace talks from the point where they left off last year.
He said there's still hope Turkey can demonstrate the political will to negotiate a peace accord devoid of troops and intervention rights that will allow Cyprus to become what U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called a "normal state."