Cyprus: Déjà vu or peace on the horizon?

Cyprus: Déjà vu or peace on the horizon?
Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias, UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu (left to right)
2012 seems another critical year in the complex history of Cyprus. Divided since 1974, when the Greek inspired coup resulted in the Turkish invasion of the island, Cyprus is now on the verge of a new make-or-break moment.
After almost three years of fruitless talks, UN has started a new round of negotiations on July 7, with the aim of signing a peace deal within a year. UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon sat down in Geneva with the leaders of the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities, Dervis Eroglu and Demetris Christofias, respectively. Eroglu and Christofias agreed to boost negotiations and expressed will to hold intensified talks on basic issues.
Ban is expected to meet the two leaders once more in September and present a report to the UN Security Council on the peace negotiations. The UN demands that the Turkish and Greek Cypriots agree on a roadmap. And one of the primary concerns is to reach a solution on the outstanding problems before Cyprus takes over the rotating presidency of the EU in July 2012.

After the crucial meeting in Geneva, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu payed a visit to the Northern Cyprus on July 9. During the joint press conference with the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Dervis Eroglu, Davutoglu declared their intention to find a solution to the Cyprus issue before the end of the year. Davutoglu also said that he hopes that a referendum takes place on the island, before the Greek Cypriot state takes over the presidency of the EU. ‘We hope to find a solution to the Cyprus problem by the end of the year, and hold a referendum in the early months of next year so that Cyprus can take on the presidency of the EU as a new state that represents the whole island’ Davutoglu said.
TRNC President Eroglu also told that he believed Cyprus problem would be solved through intensified negotiations before the end of 2011.
At the end of a two day visit to Istanbul last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also expressed support for the Turkish side’s calls for a resolution by the first half of 2012. ‘We don’t think the status quo on Cyprus benefits anyone. It’s gone on for far too long. We believe both sides would benefit from a settlement. And we strongly support the renewed, re-energized effort that the United Nations is leading’ she said.

Cyprus: Déjà vu or peace on the horizon?
Cyprus has been divided since 1974
The Cyprus problem is blocking Turkey's bid to join the EU, along with the opposition from heavyweights such as France and Germany. Greek Cypriot state, recognized by the international community except for Turkey under the name of Republic of Cyprus, was admitted into EU in 2004. TRNC, on the other hand, is recognized only by Turkey. Greek Cypriot side object to Turkey’s joining the union before the conflict is resolved.
If the negotiations bear fruit and an agreement is reached, it must be approved by the Cypriots in a referendum. The last UN backed referendum on a bi-zonal federation was in 2004, when the Turkish Cypriots voted ‘yes’, but the Greek Cypriot side rejected reunification.

Cyprus: Déjà vu or peace on the horizon?
The blast at the Evangelos Florakis navy base on July 11, damaged neighbouring Vassilikos power station
Although recent polls showed that undecided Cypriot voters are leaning towards a ‘no’ vote, the tragedy last week at a Greek Cypriot naval base may help form a new bridge between the Turkish and Greek communities. After the huge explosion that left 13 people dead and crippled the main power station, a deal has been struck to import electricity from Northern Cyprus to the Greek south.

Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said ‘As the peace process progresses to the desired level, energy will function as a catalyzer.’

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