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Turkey and North Cyprus Sit Down Prior to Reunification Talks Next Week

Sep 8, 2008
The leader of Turkish North Cyprus, Mehmet Ali Talat, has made his way to Istanbul for a round of discussions with his Turkish fellow. Tomorrow Mehmet Ali Talat will meet his counterpart, Turkish President Dr. Abdullah Gul. The upcoming talks between Talat and the Greek Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias, talks which begin on September 3 this year are the most likely topic of conversation between Talat and the Turkish administration - Cemil Cicek, Minister of State responsible for Cyprus Affairs, as well as the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan will also be sitting in on the meeting between the two.

A joint press conference will be held after the meeting, and it will be interesting to see whether any rifts will be visible on the surface.

Turkey has, for a long time, been accused by Greek Cyprus, itself now a member of the EU and NATO, of standing on the sidelines of political negotiations and doing little to broker a solution to the Cyprus problem.

Talat, a left-leaning politician, has caused ripples in the water between North Cyprus and Turkey before. His very public endorsement of a 'Yes' vote from Turkish Cypriots over the 2004 Annan plan was met with certain cynicism in some quarters in Turkey. The EU pledged to reward Turkish North Cyprus for their referendum result on the Annan plan by making trade concessions that would help to ease the international isolation that falls over the north side of the Green Line. It is the EU once more that may well, in the next week or so, exert an important influence on the attempts at reunification.

Turkey is currently vying for EU accession, and the Greek Cypriot side, who have already undergone EU membership have let Turkey publicly know that they will be willing to use their right of veto over the matter if they do not feel that Turkey have contributed in a positive, constructive way to the task of constructing a blueprint to work from toward reunification. In addition, over EU leaders will be watching the Press Conference that follows Talat and Gul's meeting with interest, most likely in the attempt to fathom out what has been said between the two.

Whilst it is only possible to speculate how Turkey's influence will play out over the next day, it should be noted that these upcoming talks, which begin next week, are occurring in the context of many different factors that are leading people to speculate that these revived discussions on reunification have a greater chance of success than any in memory.

Firstly, the election in February of this year of Demetris Christiofias as leader of the Greek Cyprus ended a period that, largely thanks to the attitude of his predecessor, the anti-reunification Papadopoulos, saw talks between the North and South completely stall, and which saw the Annan Plan fail in 2004. Christiofias has been public about his desire to move toward reunification, and he and Talat, who are both left-leaning, appear to have installed a genuine relationship geared towards meeting that end. Both leaders now have a direct line to one another installed in their offices, a symbolic gesture that would have been unthinkable not so long ago.

More news on Cyprus is available from http://www.whiterocksbafra.com
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