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Cypriot government at odds over privatizations, peace talks

Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades arrives at a European Union leaders summit at the EU council headquarters in Brussels December 20, 2013
Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades arrives at a European Union leaders summit at the EU council headquarters in Brussels December 20, 2013

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cyprus's cabinet approved a roadmap for privatizations on Thursday, but the agreement exposed deep rifts in the governing coalition.

The legislation approved on Thursday would govern the sale of three state-owned enterprises. But it also set off strikes by the island's telecoms and electrical-utility workers on February 14.

More importantly, the Democratic Party, a junior coalition partner, has misgivings about the sales. And it was furious over a decision by President Nicos Anastasiades to re-open peace talks with estranged Turkish Cypriots.

A party source told Reuters the party would probably decide next week whether it would remain in the government. Democratic Party support is crucial to passing the privatization plan in parliament and for Cyprus to get 236 million euros of aid from the EU and IMF. The Democratic Rally, the dominant party, does not have a majority in the 56-member parliament.

Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu announced a resumption of peace talks on February 11. Cyprus split after a Turkish invasion in 1974, which was triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup.

The Democratic Party accused Anastasiades of reneging on a pledge to retract perceived concessions to Turkish Cypriots. The concessions were granted by the previous government, which lost power to Anastasiades a year ago.

"The Turkish side got most of what it wanted even before negotiations started," party leader Nicolas Papadopoulos told reporters.

(Reporting By Michele Kambas; Editing by Larry King)

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