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Christofias Public Support for Talat

President Demetris Christofias has publicly expressed the hope that Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat will win upcoming elections in the Turkish-Cypriot community on April 18th.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the launch of roadworks in preparation to open the Limnitis crossing in Kato Pyrgos, Christofias said he hoped that Talat would win because if Dervish Eroglu becomes 'president' then the Cyprus problem would stagnate and the current impasse would remain. Commenting on recent criticism from DIKO and DISY that the Cyprus problem had become 'Talatified' due to his support of Talat, Christofias said: "I do not know what they want. Do they want Eroglu at the end of the day?"

Eroglu is widely considered to be a hard-liner Turkish-Cypriot nationalist compared to the moderate pro-solution Talat. With face-to-face talks between Christofias and Talat set to continue with a meeting tomorrow March 30th, the international community is closely watching developments as a solution to Cyprus' division is linked with Turkey's EU accession talks.

The importance of the Cyprus issue was underlined today by Chancellor Angela Merkel who visited Turkey and called for the country to implement the Ankara Protocol as it relates to Cyprus.

"The most important issue is the implementation of the protocol... We have to deal with the Cyprus issue. That would be to the benefit of us all," she said at a press conference in Istanbul.

Turkey's refusal to recognise the Republic of Cyprus as the official government of the country has has led Brussels to freeze talks in eight of the 35 EU accession chapters.Turkey only recognises the unilaterally-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

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