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Cyprus President-Elect and Turkish Cypriot Leader Agree to Meet


Demetris Christofias, who has won the presidential election in Cyprus, and the leader of Turkish Cypriots, Mehmet Ali Talat, have agreed to meet for talks on reunification of the island. Nathan Morley reports for VOA from Nicosia.

There is a new way of electioneering in Cyprus, for the first time, candidates have commissioned slick U.S. presidential styled TV spots, flashy websites with interactive features and have taken part in live TV debates.

Just one of the many brash, expensive presidential campaign commercials that is running on Cyprus TV.

Campaigning may have changed, but the problems regarding Cyprus three-decade division remain the same.

The two candidates in the run-off are Communist Party leader Dimitris Christofias and Ioannis Kassoulides, a right-wing moderate and former foreign minister.

Whichever candidate wins, it is almost certain that he will try to kick-start some type of dialogue with the Turkish Cypriots and end the division on the island.

University of Nicosia analyst Michael Hajimichael says the island now needs unity.

"It is an election that will decide the progress of new initiatives for a solution, new initiatives for peace," he said. "I think people just really want to get on with it and co-operate and work together, because really that is the only way forward. If the election brings about the continuation of hostilities it makes life very difficult I think."

One of the candidates needs to secure more than half the vote to be elected president.

According to the betting shops, known locally as bookies, Christofias is the favorite to win this election. It is a view shared by former presidential candidate and European politician Marios Matsakis.

"The bookies are usually the ones who get it right and I would not disagree with them," he said.

If Christofias does win, it is likely that he will make contact with Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in the north of Cyprus in the coming week and put an end to the communication-freeze between the two communities.

Cyprus has been split since 1974 between the Greek-Cypriot south, seat of the EU -recognized government, and the Turkish-Cypriot north, which is recognized only by Turkey.

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