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Cyprus President-Elect Wants to Resume Unification Talks


After winning the presidential elections in Cyprus, communist-leader Demetris Christofias says he will try to restart unification talks on the divided island. Nathan Morley reports for VOA from Nicosia.

Demetris Christofias was proclaimed president elect of Cyprus late Sunday, having won the runoff presidential election with more than 50 percent of the vote.

Thousands of his supporters rallied to the center of Nicosia waving party flags and banners as they celebrated the election victory

Speaking to the crowd, Christofias said he would fight for a just settlement of the 34-year old division of Cyprus.

There is no doubt that this election has re-juvenated hopes of peace in Cyprus.

Christofias has strong ties with many Turkish Cypriot unions and politicians and has actually crossed the diving line to the Turkish occupied areas on several occasions.

But the change in leadership has not convinced everyone that there will be change. There are mixed feelings on the streets of Nicosia.

A man said he does not think anything will really change, there will just be a change in the presidential palace.

But a pensioner said he hopes for a better time ahead with the election of Christofias, perhaps a solution to Cyprus' problems.

In a rare positive sign, Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat told the media he is hopeful of progress on the Cyprus problem now that Christofias has been elected. He added that a U.N. mission would be visiting Cyprus next month to assess the situation.

In an e-mail to Christofias, EU Commission President Jose Barroso wrote, "Your election offers the opportunity to overcome the long-standing stalemate on the Cyprus issue and I would strongly encourage you to grasp this chance and without delay start negotiations."

There are many sensitive issues for the new president to tackle, including property rights, those displaced after the 1974 Turkish invasion and the presence of more than 40,000 Turkish troops in northern Cyprus.

Cyprus's division is a thorn in Turkey's bid to join the European Union and it is thought Ankara is eager for a resumption of talks between the two communities in Cyprus.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the north in response to a military coup on the island which was backed by the Athens government.

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