Rival leaders of the divided Island of Cyprus have met to launch talks aimed at re-unifying the Island. Cypriot President Demetrious Christofias met his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mehmet Ali Talat in no man’s land in Nicosia to kick start negotiations. Both leaders were joined by UN special envoy and former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.
Analysts are optimistic that a settlement can be found for the long-running dispute.Divided since a Turkish invasion in 1974, triggered by a Greek inspired coup in the North, the conflict has threatened to jeopardise Turkey’s chances of joining the EU.
In April, Ledra Street, which cuts across a stretch of no-man’s land and symbolised division for decades, was re-opened in the capital Nicosia. The last peace talks in 2004 failed after Greek Cypriots rejected a UN peace plan accepted by Turkish Cypriots.