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Monday, 13 January, 2003, 15:20 GMT
Analysis: Pressures for a Cyprus deal
Greek Cypriot demonstration to show their solidarity with Turkish Cypriots
Greek Cypriots want a united island to join the EU
Pressure is growing to find a way of reuniting Cyprus so that both sides can join the European Union together in 2004.

The leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities have been given until the end of February to make a decision on a UN plan drawn up by Kofi Annan to end the island's 28-year partition.

But the chances of reaching an agreement are complicated by growing dissatisfaction amongst Turkish Cypriots in the north with their leader Rauf Denktash, and by presidential elections in the south.

For Turkish Cypriots, the priority over the past few years has been making enough money just to buy essentials.

Struggle

Their economy has suffered because Northern Cyprus trades solely with Turkey - the only country which recognises it.

There is no Cypriot national anthem. There is no allegiance to Cypriotism

Retired diplomat
Vedat Celik
For businessman Fikri Toros, it is a struggle to compete in the mainland Turkish market.

"It has been extremely difficult to run a business," he said. "The goods and services are all directed to Northern Cyprus via Turkey, and all these not only cause tremendous inconvenience, but also a very high cost which makes us less competitive."

Tens of thousands of Turkish Cypriots have taken to the streets to voice their dissatisfaction with the state of the economy and the leadership of Rauf Denktash.

Map of Cyprus
They blame him for refusing to agree to Kofi Annan's plan to reunite the island and allow them a share in the benefits of EU membership.

Opposition politician Mehmet Ali Talat believes Mr Denktash has been surprised by the strength of public opinion.

Sticking point

"He is alienated from the community," he said. "It is the first time in Cyprus that both the labourers and the businessmen are all together... and they want a solution."

All Turkish Cypriots will agree that they want a solution.

But many reject the idea of Greek Cypriot refugees returning to their homes in Northern Cyprus and living alongside them again.

Vedat Celik, a retired senior diplomat, said: "Was there ever confidence in the strict sense? Imagine two major communities here who have shared this island for 500 years and there are no inter-marriages.

The rejectionist camp has really distorted the plan presenting it as worse than it is

Political analyst
Sofronis Sofroniou
"Does that give you a hint? There is no Cypriot national anthem. There is no allegiance to Cypriotism.

"Now, all of a sudden, Annan comes and wants to make us Cypriots and make a Cypriot nation. Well, I think this is too ambitious, to say the least."

In the southern part of the island, opposition to the plan is led by the influential Greek Orthodox church. Here, the search for peace has been complicated by presidential elections, where hardliner Tassos Papadopoulos defeated the more conciliatory Glafcos Clerides.

Common ground

"The rejectionist camp has really distorted the plan, presenting it as worse than it is," said political analyst Sofronis Sofroniou.

"Clerides gave instructions to all government officials not to discuss the plan in order not to reveal negotiating positions, and so there has been silence on the part of one side that accepts the plan, and there's been a lot of rhetoric and commotion by the rejectionist camp."

The hope is that in just over a month from now, the leaders of the two communities will have found enough common ground to accept the Annan plan.

If they do not, there may not be another opportunity to reunite the island for a generation or more.


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02 Jan 03 | Europe
02 Jan 03 | Europe
03 Jan 03 | Europe
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