Turkish Cypriot leader optimistic about deal in 2014
AA PhotoTurkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu on April 21 voiced optimism about ironing out a settlement to the island's four-decade division with his Greek-Cypriot counterpart in UN-sponsored talks.
"We have recently resumed negotiation as I have mentioned and during the course of the negotiations we will try to bridge our differences and try to find a comprehensive settlement in the shortest possible time," Eroğlu said at a briefing with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
"We believe a settlement is possible within this year, and then we can finalize the settlement and take it to separate simultaneous referenda in 2014."
“We have the support of the secretary-general in this regard. He has been encouraging the both sides.” Outgoing U.N. envoy Alexander Downer told a farewell news conference on March 27 that Greek Cyprus’ bailout and economic problems could bolster the chances of a peace accord.
He said the country’s shrunken economy and high unemployment could get people to focus on the benefits an agreement would bring, such as a potential increase in foreign investment and a tourism influx.
After an almost two-year-long pause, Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders held their first meeting in early February, issuing a joint declaration that outlines the way forward for a solution to the crisis that has gripped the island for half a century.
Negotiations over Cyprus are set to resume after a 2004 deal put forward by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to reunify the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities was defeated by a negative vote in the Greek Cypriot administration.
The joint declaration announced by the U.N. mission in Cyprus on Feb. 11 said a settlement between the two sides “will be based on a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality” after the presidents of Turkish and Greek parties met in U.N. buffer zone in Nicosia.