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New hardliners in Cyprus equation

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New hardliners in Cyprus equation

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The Greek and Turkish communities of Cyprus have agreed to press ahead with talks on reuniting the island. Mehmet Ali Talat, the leader of northern Cyprus, which is recognised only by Ankara, said the victory in parliamentary elections on Sunday of Turkish Cypriot hardliners would not affect the peace negotiations.

Cyprus President Demetris Christofias has warned against high expectations of rapid progress towards a solution. Talat is seen as having less room for manoeuvre after the right-wing National Unity Party (UBP) won just over 44 percent, giving it an outright majority in the 50-seat Turkish Cypriot parliament. The vote was a stinging defeat for the ruling Republican Turkish Party aligned with Talat, who started peace talks with Christofias last year. The talks play a pivotal role in Turkey’s European Union aspirations. The UBP advocates a two-state settlement on Cyprus, at odds with the federal model now being discussed by Talat and Christofias. Greek Cypriots want a deal to be an evolution of their internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus, an EU member, rather than a union of two states.