- BayBak, Voice of a Nation - http://www.en.baybak.com -
Turk, Greek Cypriot leaders meet to launch last-ditch reunification talks
BayBak, Azerbaijan | 1724 days ago | Wednesday, 3rd September , 2008 , 10:13 [am] | Azerbaijan
|.|| Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders met Wednesday to launch last-ditch reunification talks, seen as the best chance in years of ending the island’s 44-year division.
Turkish Cypriot Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot Demetris Christofias met in no-man’s-land dividing their capital Nicosia, in what diplomats and analysts
Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders met Wednesday to launch last-ditch reunification talks, seen as the best chance in years of ending the island’s 44-year division.
Turkish Cypriot Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot Demetris Christofias met in no-man’s-land dividing their capital Nicosia, in what diplomats and analysts say is the best chance of a breakthrough after years of failed mediation.
“We must, at long last, put an end to the suffering of our people and reunite our country,” Christofias told reporters as he headed for the meeting.
“Today is an historic day for Cyprus,” said U.N. chief Ban Ki-moonâ€™s special envoy, former Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer, who was at the launch of the talks in the U.N.-patrolled buffer zone.
Downer said “significant progress” had been made to build confidence and create a solid foundation for the negotiations.
“There have been difficult moments over the past months and there will likely be further difficulties and challenges ahead. At the same time, the Cyprus problem is not insurmountable and the negotiations which begin today can and must have a successful outcome,” he added.
Wednesday will see the ceremonial launch of the talks, as substantive negotiations are to begin on September 11.
The two leaders have agreed to establish a secure hotline to facilitate direct phone contact during the intensive talksâ€™ process which is expected to see them meet at least once a week.
The negotiation process has an open-ended timeline but the United Nations has warned that the talks cannot go on indefinitely without tangible progress being made along the way.
Preparatory talks which began in March have been accompanied by confidence- building measures, notably the opening of a crossing in Ledra Street linking south and north in the symbolic heart of Nicosia.
It is the first intensive push for peace since a UN reunification plan was approved by Turkish Cypriots but overwhelmingly rejected by Greek Cypriots.
Past peace efforts have repeatedly foundered on the same sticking points – power-sharing arrangements, property rights for displaced Cypriots, the nature of a future federation and intervention rights for Turkey and Greece. The two countries remain guarantor powers for the island, which that gained independence from Britain in 1960.
Cyprus has been divided since 1964 when Turkish Cypriots forced to withdraw into enclaves.hurriyet, Voice of a Nation