Thursday, July 22, 2010

Greece and the Greek Cypriots pushing for a deal on Cyprus

Greece voiced support yesterday for Greek Cypriot proposals to jumpstart talks on reunifying the Mediterranean island after Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots accused their rivals of derailing a UN-backed year-end target date for a deal.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou urged Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots to "seriously study" the new package of proposals put forward last week by Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias, who is also Cyprus president.
"This shows that President Christofias is one step ahead in initiatives to solve the Cyprus problem," Papandreou told reporters after they met at the island's Larnaca airport.
The package put forward by Christofias proposes that the port of Famagusta in the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north be opened to direct trade under European Union auspices in exchange for the return of the nearby resort of Varosha to its displaced Greek Cypriot inhabitants, which is fair in my opinion.

Once one of the Mediterranean's leading resorts, Varosha has been a decaying ghost town since Turkish troops fenced it off in 1974 when they invaded the island's northern third following a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at union with Greece.
Christofias also proposes that in UN-brokered talks on reunifying the island the questions of restoring property to the displaced and adjusting the amount of territory under Turkish Cypriot local administration be combined with the issue of immigration control after any deal.
He is also pushing for the key issue of security to be dealt with at a UN-chaired international conference with participation by the European Union, as well as Greece, Turkey and former colonial power Britain, rather than at a meeting of the last three as proposed by the Turkish Cypriots.
"If these measures are accepted it will change the climate and lead to positive results," Christofias said yesterday.
During a visit to the breakaway north on Tuesday, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek accused the Greek Cypriots of lacking the necessary political will for a settlement.
"This is not a process that can go on forever," he warned after talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.
"If the Greek Cypriots and their supporters cannot reach a solution by the end of the year, everyone will continue to follow their own paths," he said.
But Christofias countered that it was not his government that was blocking progress in reunification talks but the Turkish Cypriots and their backers in Ankara, which he charged was "hardening its stance".
Christofias and Eroglu are due to meet again today for their latest talks in the UN-backed peace process which was relaunched in December 2008. Eroglu is a hardcore nationalists who rather sees partitition than reunification!

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