Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and the leader of the Turkish community Mehmet Ali Talat have made a significant breakthrough in negotiations aimed at reunifying the divided island, according to reports in international and local media.
In UN-mediated talks on 1 July, Christofias and Talat agreed in principle that any settlement should involve a single state, with common citizenship for all Cypriots. This would mean that the two leaders have overcome Turkish pressure to establish a loose confederation between two states by trying to upgrade the unrecognised 'Turkish Republic of Nortern Cyprus' to the rank of state, as Christofias explained recently in Brussels (EurActiv 20/06/08). Cyprus has been split in two since it was invaded by Turkish troops in 1974 to prevent Greece from annexing it.
Since Christofias was elected president of Cyprus last February, a more optimistic climate for the reunification of the island prevails, thanks to his good personal relationship with the leader of the Turkish community Mehmet Ali Talat. A striking illustration of this new climate of trust was the reopening of the Ledra crossing in the heart of the capital Nicosia in April (EurActiv 04/04/08).
The next meeting between Christofias and Talat is scheduled for 25 July.