Can the island of Cyprus be re-united four decades after the UN buffer zone was established?

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Can the island of Cyprus be re-united four decades after the UN buffer zone was established?

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It is 40 years since the buffer zone was established by the United Nations between the Greek and Turkish communities on the island of Cyprus.

Much of what is there – like the airport has been trapped in time as peace initiatives over the four decades have come and gone, evidence of the deep split on the Mediterranean island.

It is an area seen only by UN peacekeepers who have not witnessed a serious incident since 1996. Over the years some corridors have been opened but border controls remain.

Talks on re-unification have opened again hastened some speculate by the discovery of natural gas off the island’s coast.

“At this stage, the basic positions of both sides are being presented, so it is not possible to expect progress. The fact that we have entered into dialogue again is progress,” said Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades of the talks which got underway in February when he met with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.

One glimpse of the present and what some hope could be the future does exist inside the buffer zone. It is the village of Pyla with more than 1,400 Greek and Turkish residents and the only place on the island where the two live together. Pyla is seen as a symbol of unity.

“From time to time it is very realistic to say we had some ups and downs, but both community leaders and community members managed to be logical and create a positive atmosphere in the village,” explained Turkish Cypriot Deputy Mayor of Pyla Nedjet Enver

Cyprus has been divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974. It followed years of hostilities between Greek and Turkish Cypriots and was launched in response to a Greek inspired coup.

Turkey took the north of the island before a ceasefire was called, Greek Cypriots fled to the south and Turkish Cypriots to the north.