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How Possible is the Solution in Cyprus? January 14, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Cyprus, Turkey.
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After 60 unsuccessful meetings in the last 16 months the Cypriot Leaders are meeting this week for intensified talks about the future of the Mediterranean island. The talks are a part of the negotiations the two leaders launched in September 2008 to find a comprehensive settlement to Cyprus issue. Greece Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat will hold two three-day sessions in January. After this week’s talks, the second round will be held on January 25, 26 and 27.

The first session was hold at the residence of Taye Brook Zerihoun, the special representative of the UN Secretary General in Cyprus, at the buffer zone in Lefkosa on Monday. The UN special envoy for Cyprus, former Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer participate at the meeting. The meeting focused on governance. President Christofias told reporters on Monday that the two leaders exchanged views freely on the various aspects of governance, without any document as a basis. The leaders are expected to continue the discussions on the same topic.

Mainly “management and share of power”, “economy”, “European Union” and “property” are expected to be issues in their intensified negotiations. UN sees the intensified talks as “an important opportunity to achieve a remarkable improvement in the ongoing process in the island”.

The main conflict line between the two Cypriot Leaders is the later share of political power. While the Turkish Cypriots seek a confederation of independent states, the Greek Cypriots want a federation with strong central government. New Turkish Cypriot proposals leaked last week include separate rights to sign international agreements and control of the Mediterranean island’s air space.

Government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou on Sunday called the proposals “unacceptable” and warned they could not constitute the basis for negotiations.

Other key sticking points remain sensitive arrangements on property lost during the 1974 war and granting military intervention rights to Turkey.
International analysts stated that the time for a compromise is small. Election will be hold in Turkish Cyprus in March and recent opinion polls showed that a defeat of Talat is likely. His main rival is the Dervish Eroglu, who is taking tough stance on the Cyprus problem. His nationalist UBP party wants the island to remain divided and has its sights on a two-state model.

Fatma Yilmaz-Elmas, USAK EU Expert focusing on the Cyprus issue, stated that the negotiations have started under the shadow of Greek leader Christofias’ rejection on Turkish proposals put forward by Talat. “Greek leader seems to impede the course of negotiations just at the beginning without giving a open door for fruitful discussions and give-take process” said Mrs. Elmas. In the name of the upcoming elections in Turkish side, Mrs. Elmas also said that it is not helpful for the ongoing negotiation process to emphasize all the time that Mr. Eroglu will terminate negotiations in case he wins. “Eroglu has surely had different ways in mind for solution. However, he is also in favor of going on negotiations. A pessimistic view on the election results and its possible effect on negotiation would not help negotiations to go in a healthy way” added Mrs. Elmas.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 after the invasion by Turkish forces in response to a Greek Cypriot coup aimed to make Cyprus a part of Greece.
The last attempt at a negotiated solution to the Cypriot problem – in 2004 – collapsed when Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of a UN settlement plan, but Greek Cypriots rejected it.

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