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Turkish Side 'Must Give its Hand' - Christofias

cyprus talksPresident Demetris Christofias wants a solution to the island's political division before Cyprus takes up the EU presidency in 2012, but the Turkish side 'must give its hand,' he said.

Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu must stop talking about a partnership between two states and instead talk about the transformation of Cyprus into a federal state, said Christofias after a meeting with Eroglu this morning.

He was referring to yesterday's statements by Eroglu that the Greek-Cypriot side wanted to extend the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus into the Turkish-held north of the island. This is something that is 'unrealistic' and will never be accepted by the Turkish side, said Eroglu, who heads the unilaterally-declared 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus'. The TRNC is only recognised as a state by Turkey.

"We are hundred percent right," said Eroglu, insisting that a solution must be based on two states, a position rejected by the president.

According to Christofias, Eroglu admitted that he had misled journalists with his statement and that "we must be careful."

But as negotiations wear on it is clear that little of substance is being accomplished, with the possible exception of relative cooperation on the shape a federal police force would take. Each sides' positions on international treaties also appeared to receive at least partial acceptance. Reportedly, the leaders' representatives agreed that any international agreement made by the separate administrations would be respected if they were not against a possible settlement of the Cyprus problem.

In a statement after the leaders' meeting this morning at UN Special Representative Lisa Buttenheim's home, the UNSR said that their discussion was in a good spirit and there will be another top-level meeting on May 5th.


There has been a political and communal split between Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots since 1974, when Turkey invaded the island and forced a division in the wake of inter-communal conflicts. Turkey invoked the Treaty of Guarantee to justify its invasion - also called an intervention or peace operation by the Turkish Cypriots - under which three guarantor powers Greece, Turkey and Britain had the right to intervene if Cyprus' sovereignty was threatened. In 1974 there was an attempted coup against then-President Archbishop Makarios by right-wing Greek-Cypriot militants EOKA B who were backed by the Greek Junta.

Turkey, fearing a union between Greece and Cyprus, decided to invade and has occupied the island ever since. Direct political contact between the Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots effectively began again in 2004, when Cyprus joined the EU and after border crossings were opened between the two sides. The latest round of reunification talks started in 2008 between President Demetris Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and continued with Dervis Eroglu after he won an election in the Turkish-Cypriot community early 2010.


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