Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot leaders meeting in Nicosia have agreed to
resume reunification talks in September to try and end the 34-year
division of the Mediterranean island. The U.N. Chief of Mission in
Cyprus, Taye-Brook Zerihoun, made the announcement that a breakthrough
had been made after hosting a meeting between the Greek Cypriot
President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali
Talat. For VOA, Nathan Morley reports from Nicosia.
This was the
two leaders' fourth meeting, during which they undertook a final review
of technical committees and working groups, which will lay the
groundwork for negotiations.
Once the upcoming negotiations are complete, Turkish and Greek Cypriots will hold separate votes on the final settlement.
U.N. spokesman Jose Diaz told VOA that Friday's events are a very positive sign for the future of Cyprus.
I think today's meeting went quite smoothly, we had a very good
statement coming out of the meeting, in addition to the agreement to
start negotiations on the 3rd September, they also announced a series
of measures that are aimed at making life easier for people on both
sides of the divide," he said.
Considering that almost all
contact between the two communities ended in 2004, events since the
election of Demitris Christofias in February this year have moved at a
The chemistry between Mr. Christofias and Mr. Talat
is said to be "good" and the two men are seen by many in the
international community as the only hope for finding a peace settlement
in the Cyprus dispute, which has been ongoing since 1974.
have a very good relationship, which is obvious when you see them
interacting and discussing, so I think that's a very important part of
the progress that has been made so far and hopefully will continue to
be made," said U.N. spokesman Jose Diaz.
To add some impetus to
the process, the former Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer
recently accepted the post as the U.N. special envoy in Cyprus and will
arrive on the island next week.
With his background in complex negotiations he could hold the key to future success in Cyprus.
Cyprus split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after an Athens-backed coup.
breakaway Turkish Cypriot north is only recognized by Turkey.
Reunification talks have been deadlocked since 2004, when Greek
Cypriots rejected a U.N. reunification plan in a referendum. Turkish
Cypriots accepted it.