Cyprus : Maybe a permanent separation is the least painful solution…


Cyprus: Reunification Proving Elusive

 

Vincent Morelli

Section Research Manager

Attempts to resolve the Cyprus problem and reunify the island have undergone various levels of negotiation for almost 40 years. Beginning in 2008, Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias, a Greek Cypriot, and the former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat engaged in what appeared to be a positive and concerted effort to reach some type of acceptable solution. However, by the end of March 2010 time and politics ran out on both. On April 18, 2010, Turkish Cypriot voters selected a new leader, Dervis Eroglu of the National Unity Party (UBP). Eroglu, a 72-year-old physician, and long-time politician, led a political party that included some who have advocated a permanently divided island and international recognition for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). During the political campaign in the north, Eroglu criticized Talat for what he thought were too many concessions to the Greek Cypriot side. However, since then Eroglu has reassured everyone that he will continue with the negotiations. For his part, Republic of Cyprus President Christofias had experienced his own internal political difficulties as one of his governing coalition partners, the Socialist Party (EDEK), quit the governing coalition over disagreements with the President’s negotiating strategy. Almost immediately following the EDEK decision, hard-liners in the other coalition partner, the Democratic Party (DIKO), also criticized Christofias for what they considered to be too many concessions to the Turkish Cypriot side. These disagreements continued into May when the Greek Cypriot National Council, the political body that advises the President on Cyprus settlement issues, apparently failed to agree on a joint communiqué outlining the negotiating strategy for the new round of talks with Eroglu. This lack of consensus raises the question of whether Christofias can be guaranteed support for whatever negotiated solution he could achieve with Eroglu. The change in leadership in the north from Talat to Eroglu initially raised the question of whether prospects for a settlement that would end the political division of Cyprus would enter a period of retrenchment with possibly more difficult negotiations ahead dominated by harder-line views on both sides. It also called into question whether the “understandings” reached between Christofias and Talat would form the basis for the new round of talks. Both sides had repeated that the talks would resume from where they left off, although it is somewhat unclear exactly where Christofias and Talat left off as neither side officially revealed any of the so-called “convergences” that they had apparently arrived at before Talat left office. Nevertheless, the first round of the new talks was held on May 26, 2010, and continued briefly on June 3 and again on June 15. Four additional sessions have been scheduled through the end of July. Both Cristofias and Eroglu have stated their desire to reach a solution, but most predict a difficult period ahead. The United States has long maintained a position of strong support for a negotiated settlement. This has been reaffirmed by the Obama Administration. Many Members of Congress have continued to maintain their interest in Cyprus during the 111th Congress, partly due to keen constituent concern. Hearings could be anticipated on the future of the negotiations as the new round of talks begin. This report will be undated as necessary.

( Full Report )

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