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Sunday, July 18, 1999 Published at 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK

World: Europe

Cyprus: Divided for 25 years

Relatives of missing people stage a hunger strike

By BBC Cyprus Correspondent Chris Drake

Chris Drake: "For the Turkish community, the anniversary is cause for celebration"
The Cyprus problem is going through a critical phase. It is a description Greek Cypriot political leaders have used often and inaccurately during the past couple of decades. Now it's true.

The coming months will show whether some of the most powerful countries in the world can help solve the problems of one of the weakest.

[ image: A Greek Cypriot mourns for his son killed in the invasion]
A Greek Cypriot mourns for his son killed in the invasion
The prospects do not look good.

The Turkish Cypriots have made it clear that they will not turn up to any G8-backed United Nations talks unless their self-proclaimed state is internationally recognised.

That has already been ruled unacceptable by the UN, and so their state remains recognised only by Turkey.

If there are no talks, then there is no chance of progress.

Turkey backs the demand for recognition and, since its relations with the European Union countries are so poor, only the United States is regarded as having the influence to persuade Ankara to soften its stance.

The US has declined the use of any pressure.

'We can't live together'

[ image: UN peacekeepers guard a checkpoint]
UN peacekeepers guard a checkpoint
Greek Cypriot leaders appreciate the danger of the situation, and admit they are also worried about the possible swing by certain countries towards the idea of some form of recognition for the north.

It is against all UN Security Council resolutions, but Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has argued for years that the two communities cannot live together and that two states is the only solution.

He says forcing the people to live together will bring a return to the inter-communal violence that brought UN peacekeeping forces here in 1964.

Chris Drake: "Greek Cypriots feel there is no cause for celebration"
In the search for a solution, Greece and Turkey have a key role to play because of their considerable influence on the respective communities.

These Nato allies are showing signs of trying to bridge their long-standing differences and, if they could come to terms on an acceptable future Cyprus, that would be real progress.

Renewed interest

Turkey does not want a Greek controlled island off its southern coast, especially one with plenty of military hardware.

[ image: Women hold a vigil for family members missing since the invasion]
Women hold a vigil for family members missing since the invasion
Greece says weapons are necessary to protect its community - which makes up almost 80% of the population - against the Turkish troops occupying the north.

Such claims and arguments are nothing new but, with the renewed global interest in solving the Cyprus problem, a re-examination of them may just produce a formula to break the deadlock.

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