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Cyprus thorns still impede healing divisions

brussels bureau

Cyprus thorns still impede healing divisions


The two sides’ leaders in the Cyprus stand-off have been talking intensively. A final settlement has not come out of it but it beat the alternative, such as the conflicts of the past.

Turkish Cypriot political analyst Niyazi Kizilyürek, a professor at the University of Cyprus, said: “The two leaders have met more than 70 times in the last one and half year and have made progress in some important areas but there are still big differences.”

Demetris Christofias and Mehmet Ali Talat said in a joint statement recently: “We are convinced that with perseverence we shall achieve a comprehensive settlement.”

They are said to have got about halfway through a shortlist of priority subjects which need to be discussed.

Kizilyürek explained: “We have two different concepts: The Greek Cypriot side is actually keen on a centrally strong federal government whereas the Turkish Cypriot side is negotiating for a loose federal state. And these two different approaches to negotiations it make a quick success difficult.”

Complex property disputes and territorial adjustments affect thousands of people who were uprooted in the 1970s, and thousands of soldiers from Turkey remain in the north.

The island’s division dates from a Turkish invasion in 1974, which was a response to the disintegration of a power-sharing arrangement. Eleven years of intercommunal violence had culminated in a Greek-inspired coup. International pressure brought a cease-fire and United Nations peacekeepers.

Today, the population is 80 per cent majority Greek Cypriot and 20 per cent minority Turkish Cypriot. In mythology, Cyprus is well known as the island of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, but in spite of more than 40 years’ of on-and-off trying to mend fences, the thorns remain.

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