Magazine article Europe-East

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus : Presidential Vote to Determine Fate of Reunification Talks

Magazine article Europe-East

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus : Presidential Vote to Determine Fate of Reunification Talks

Article excerpt

The Turkish Cypriots will, on 18 April, elect a new president in a vote that is expected to determine the fate of the ongoing talks on the reunification of the island and will also likely affect Turkey's EU accession talks. Opinion polls suggest that the incumbent President, Mehmet Ali Talat - an advocate of reunification - will lose the vote to Dervis Eroglu, the current prime minister, who is much less committed to reaching a settlement.

After 34 years of division, the two Cypriot communities opened talks on the island's reunification in September 2008. Despite the favourable international and local atmosphere, the negotiations have failed to deliver any positive outcome to date. Progress has only been achieved on the least controversial issues. However, key points, such as restitution of property, power sharing and security and guarantees remain bones of contention.

The EU, which has been strongly supporting the reunification efforts, is not directly involved in the talks carried out under the UN's auspices. To provide both parties with advice on EU-related aspects of a settlement, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso established, in January 2009, the Cyprus Steering Group as well as appointed, in October 2009, his personal representative to the UN good offices mission.

Talat (58), whose strong pro-reunification stance won him the last elections in 2005, is in favour of a solution based on the bicommunal, bizonal federation' - a formula also supported by the Greek Cypriots. …

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