Cyprus community leaders ask UN to help reactivate peace talks

11:05, April 24, 2010      

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The leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities on Friday urged the United Nations to help reactivate reunification talks, following a three-week-long recess for elections which resulted in a crucial change of leadership in the Turkish community.

Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, who is also leader of the Greek community, asked UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon in a telephone conversation to take steps for the continuation of the talks.

His spokesman said that the talks should resume from the point they were left off before the recess.

He added that Ban told Christofias he was gratified with his readiness to return to the talks and his efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.

The Cyprus government has expressed concern that the new Turkish Cypriot leader, right-wing nationalist Dervis Eroglu, would negate the progress achieved during 20 months of talks with his predecessor, Mehmet Ali Talat.

Eroglu took up his post on Friday at a ceremony in the Turkish Cypriot enclave, in the presence of Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

He promised that he would resume reunification negotiations from the point they were left off.

He also asked Ban Ki-moon to move toward resumption of the talks, saying that he would be addressing a letter to Ban.

Eroglu avoided repeating previous statements which had raised concern that the negotiations would stagnate, further complicating Turkey's drive to join the European Union.

Turkey sent troops to Cyprus in 1974, following a coup by Greek army officers, and occupied the northern part of the island, driving out 170,000 Greek Cypriots and bringing in mainland settlers.

Eroglu has repeatedly said he would not accept any Greek Cypriots returning to their properties and businesses and would not even talk about any settlers being withdrawn.

In his inaugural speech, he said his first goal is to reach a settlement of the Cyprus problem, but failing that he would seek international recognition for the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," now recognized only by Turkey.

The internationally recognized Cyprus government, represented by Greek Cypriots, has warned that such a line could cause very serious problems to the peace negotiations and damage Turkey's bid for European membership.

Ankara has asked for a settlement by the end of this year and publicly cautioned against any deviation from the parameters of a Cyprus solution decided upon at the negotiations under UN auspices.

Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey will continue to support negotiations for a permanent and extensive peace on the island.

The United Nations and the European Union have called for swift progress in the talks.

Source: Xinhua


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