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Monday, 21 January, 2002, 12:52 GMT
Can talks on Cyprus bring peace?
The two leaders of the divided island of Cyprus opened up a new round of talks on Wednesday in a fresh attempt to resolve their long running dispute.

Greek Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and his Turkish counterpart Rauf Denktash have committed themselves to what the United Nations hopes will be several months of talks. The aim by mid-summer is a settlement of one of the most intractable disputes in the world.

The new year presents an historic opportunity for the two sides, with Cyprus likely to be invited to join the European Union. But Turkey also aspires to EU membership in due course, and its chances will be much improved if the Cyprus issue can be resolved.

If Cyprus joins the EU as a divided island - with Turkey technically an occupying power in the north - Turkey's prospects of membership will be damaged and EU expansion could be derailed.

What are the hopes for these talks between the two sides being successful? What do you think the consequences would be for the European Union?

This Talking Point has now closed. Please read a selection of your comments below.



The only path to peace is to create two separate states and then let a unified state be built on trust over a few generations

Turan, UK
People seem to hold the misunderstanding that Greeks and Turks on the island lived happily before 1974. Even the briefest glance into the 1963-74 period will show you how the Turks suffered from an ejection from parliament, an economic blockade, limited freedom of movement and mass killings. They suffered this because they didn't want to give up their constitutional right of partnership status. Yes there was a period when Greeks and Turks lived side by side but that was under the British where neither side had domination over the other. The Greek side wanting a strong central government is just another way of saying it has dominance over the Turks. The only path to peace is to create two separate states, zones, areas or whatever name you want to give separation and then let a unified state be built on trust over a few generations. Remember, once bitten twice shy.
Turan, UK

It is sad to see how economic interests and military power can pull the strings of world politics. It seems to me that human rights always come second. The fact is that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots deserve to be able to move freely within their country. The longer it takes to solve the problem the harder it will become to find a viable solution. The Turkish regime of the northern part (that was supposed to protect Turkish Cypriots) is only making the situation worse by driving Turkish Cypriots away from the island. I think we've all had enough. It is time to settle this problem. Let's just hope that Denktash is not bluffing, as he has before!
Kypy, London, UK


Cypriots might be Greek and Turkish nationals by association but they do share a common land and heritage

Spyros, Greece
The Greek Junta gave Turkey a legal right to invade the island in 1974. Since then both Greece and Turkey use the issue for political reasons in our own little cold war. Cypriots might be Greek and Turkish nationals by association but they do share a common land and heritage. Maybe it would be better for everyone to remember just that and live them in peace and sort it out.
Spyros, Greece

The occupied part of Cyprus is recognised only by Turkey. If Turkey would like to join the EU then Turkish troops must evacuate the occupied part of the island and let the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots live in peace as they did previously with no outside influence from other countries. After all, what we all want in life is peace without the intervention of troops.
Panayiotes, UK

I was born on the island at RAF Akrotiri and have been back three times. The island is breathtakingly beautiful and I hope I see the day when my Mum and Dad can relive their teenage years there, as they have so often described to us.
Ani, UK

The Cyprus problem started long before 1974. Athens is to blame for the mess. There has been peace on the island since 1974. What is all the fuss about?
Chris, Spain

Why aren't the Turkish Cypriot people recognised? What about the rights of the Turkish Cypriot? Why all the embargos against us? The EU is not helping, as they too have been turned against us by the Greeks, who are very good at playing the masked political game.
Mehmet Hasan, North Cyprus

The accession of Cyprus as a whole to the EU could result in giving Turkish Cypriots the feeling of security they want regarding Greek Cypriots. The EU would pour a lot of money into the underdeveloped North and along with the respect of everybody's human rights the island could at last face the future positively.
Andreas, Greece

Can a couple get back together 30 years after a nasty divorce? I would like to hope so but I am afraid it is not possible.
George, New York, USA


I do not believe that both communities can live side by side in the short term

Burhan, UK
In my opinion, the Cyprus problem was solved after the Turkish intervention in 1974. Since then, there has been no violence and no bloodshed. Any solution to the island irrespective of its shape or form must recognise the current realities on the island and the political existence of the Turks. I do not believe that both communities can live side by side in the short term. It will take time.
Burhan, UK

This is politics at its worse. Cyprus is divided. The southern part is favoured by the Greek government while the northern part is in a way part of the Turkish government. They have been having opposing views to the matter since 1974 and no side seems to be willing to stand down.
The reason why diplomatic chaos has been avoided is because a solution to this matter has been avoided. A solution, which, theoretically, must be given within the next few months. Funny enough, no matter whether a solution is given or not, no matter whether it is satisfying or not, we will still expect a crisis. Like I said. Politics at its worse.
Seth, UK


The Turkish side continues to be punished for bringing peace to the island

Mike Isaacs, UK
The EU, UN, USA and UK have prevented a settlement to the Cyprus issue by believing Greek Propaganda, and failing to see the real facts. This has lead to the Greek side being recognised as the authority of the whole of the island, gaining financial aid and full international support.
The Turkish side continues to be punished for bringing peace to the island. The Greek side that were the true terrorists have been supported by the international community ever since. This is because the international community has been fooled into thinking the Cyprus Problem started in 1974...
Mike Isaacs, UK

I think that, although people can have their own views, it helps if we try to talk and act according to internationally recognised principles of justice and truth:
Fact 1: Turkey was condemned by the vast majority of countries in the UN General Assembly on multiple occasions for the invasion of Cyprus.
Fact 2: That is the reason than no country (except Turkey) recognises the pseudo state of Northern Cyprus.
Fact 3: No real solution can be accepted but the ones based on International Right - that is the reason UN General Assembly, Security Council and High Court of Hague exist. Any other solution would only encourage a strong country to invade its weaker neighbours.
Christos Georgalas, UK

If both groups can live together peacefully here in the UK, which they do, then there is definitely hope. The main problem is the politicians.
William, UK

It's about time for a proper solution that will not be destroyed easily. Focusing on the similarities and not the differences, as well as no interference from outside, will move Turkish and Greek Cypriots forward.
Okan Baysan, UK


Admission of the island into the EU would negate any agreement they reach regarding rights of refugees, ethnic privileges, freedom of movement and other basic human rights

Dionysios Pilarinos, US (Hellas)
It is farcical that the same individuals, Clerides and Denktash, are expected to solve a problem that they have both created. The current situation is nothing more than the continuation of the policy of unproductive diplomacy that has resulted in segregation and conflict for the past 38 years. Both men realise that the admission of the entire island into the EU would automatically negate any agreement they reach regarding the rights of the refugees, ethnic privileges or quotas, freedom of movement, and other basic human rights.

If Cyprus joins the EU, it will effectively mean the union of the island with the Hellenic Republic. It will mean that refugees can return to their homes, thus making the Hellenic community a majority in the now occupied territories, thus ensuring them control of the "regional" government. It will also mean the expulsion of the illegal Turkish settlers who will not be granted citizenship by the Cypriot government. Evidently, there is no reason why Turkey and Denktash would see any benefit in changing the status quo for admission into the EU.
Dionysios Pilarinos, US (Hellas)


There are true hopes for these talks to succeed

Peter Volford, Hungary
There are true hopes for these talks to succeed. The talks have been re-started because of mounting international pressure and so the process should not be solely propelled by outer interests - those of uniting Europe, those of Turkey willing to be part of that uniting Europe or even the interests of the United Nations. All outer interests leading to the reunion process will have to be replaced by dynamic policies based on interests of the whole island. The ultimate change will have to come from inside, not outside.
Peter Volford, Hungary


Clerides is proposing that Turkish Cypriots lose all their rights. Is this fair?

Natasha Maguder, England
I am a Turkish Cypriot, born and brought up in the UK. Every time I go home to Cyprus it is heartbreaking. Turkish Cypriots do not want to be ruled by Turkey; they are being bullied and pushed out of top positions and the island is slowly becoming an extension of Turkey. The Cypriots have a shared culture and heritage. Clerides is proposing that Turkish Cypriots lose all their rights, what little they have. Is this fair? Cypriots want a united island without the involvement of Turkey. The sooner Turkey starts minding its own business and stops treating our island like a holiday destination, the better.
Natasha Maguder, England

If both groups can live together peacefully here in the UK, which they do, then there is definitely hope. The main problem is the politicians.
William, UK


What's to discuss; the ferry schedule?

Ushi Guruk, UK
Why go over old ground all over again? The UN has passed its resolution on this and the world community has spoken. The Republic of Northern Cyprus is recognised by only one country in the world - Turkey. They are in violation of a number of UN resolutions and need to get out now. What's to discuss; the ferry schedule? Unfortunately, it seems like the West is happy to back up some UN resolutions (as long as the aggressors are not US allies) and ignore others. As far as Turkish membership to the EU goes - well try asking Germany what they have to say on the subject.
Ushi Guruk, UK

Fact One: Turkey was condemned by the vast majority of countries in the UN General Assembly on multiple occasions for the invasion of Cyprus.
Fact Two: That is the reason than no country (except Turkey) recognises the pseudo state of Northern Cyprus.
Fact Three: No real solution can be accepted but the ones based on International Rights - that is the reason UN General Assembly, Security Council and High Court of Hague exist. Any other solution would only encourage a strong country to invade its weaker neighbours.
Christos Georgalas, UK


Focusing on the similarities and not the differences will move Turkish and Greek Cypriots forward

Okan Baysan, UK
It's about time for a proper solution that will not be destroyed easily. Focusing on the similarities and not the differences, as well as no interference from outside, will move Turkish and Greek Cypriots forward.
Okan Baysan, UK


I don't see any resolve with these people in power

Kerem, UK
As an 18-year-old Turkish Cypriot who was born and brought up in the UK, I guess I cannot really appreciate what happened in the past. However, both leaders have been disagreeing from the outset of this situation and I don't see any resolve with these people in power. Since then a new generation has grown up, surely they should be the ones who bring resolve to Cyprus. I'm not saying we should forget the past but they need to stop living in it.
Kerem, UK

I think that people tend to forget the real issue in Cyprus is very simple. Turkey invaded the island (a member of UN) in 1974 and since then occupies about 40% of it. The international community should demand that Turkey respects the decisions of the United Nations Security Council and withdraw its troops from the island.
Michael, US


Denktash is little more than a civil servant to Turkey

Murat, UK
As a Turkish Cypriot, I can tell that Denktash is no more than a civil servant of Turkey and there is no prospect of him signing a peace treaty with President Clerides until Turkey gets what it wants out of these negotiations - releasing the hostage called Cyprus in return for guaranteed EU membership. Having said this, I do not think that Clerides will agree to a deal that does not dispense with the Turkish Cypriots' status (conferred by the treaties founding the Republic of Cyprus in 1960) as an equal partner in the island.
Murat, UK

I am a Greek Cypriot born in Famagusta which is now in Northern Cyprus. I have lived here in England since I was a baby. If I wanted to go to Cyprus I would not be able to visit the area where I was born. I think it's a total disgrace that the island is divided and the sooner there is access to all areas the better.
Marga-Rhett, England


Both sides are to blame for the conflict

Nina, US
It is obvious that both sides are to blame for the conflict but reading some of these comments makes me think whether people who continuously blame one side know the history behind Cyprus. Both the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots have done nothing to alleviate the situation. It is time that they do something to settle the dispute and these talks would help a great deal. As for membership of the European Union, Cyprus and Turkey should be allowed to join only if the talks are successful.
Nina, US

To Nina, US - how can Turkey be part of the EU? They invaded Cyprus in 1974; they will not recognise responsibility for the genocides of Kurds and Greeks in the 1920s and they are still killing Kurds for the sake of the old Ottoman empire.
David, Nottingham, UK

To Nina, USA. How come Turkey be part of the EU? They invaded Cyprus in 1974, they cannot recognise they are responsible for the genocides of Kurds and Greeks in the 1920s, and they are still killing Kurds for the sake's of the old Ottoman empire.
As for Cyprus, their interests in more Greek islands would have not stopped if the Greek government had not been resistant to the so-called empire. Three hundred years of slavery cannot be forgotten in one day.
David

When two sides fail to solve what we see as the problem for over 50 years, it becomes obvious that they don't see it as the problem to solve. The Greek Cypriots see the problem as tying Cyprus to Greece, and the Turks see the problem as the risk of losing yet another piece of Turkish identity and territory. Neither side see the problem as making life convenient for us nor for the EU.
Jon Livesey, US

Yet another belligerent country threatening violence. When will the West wake up to this threat?
Michael Entill, UK

In 1974, Turkey gave human rights to the people of what is now the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. If it hadn't been for the Turkish army occupying the north, then the Greek Cypriots would have continued with their aggressive policy of occupation. Reuniting the island under the Greek Cypriot proposals would allow them to continue on their road to the unification of Cyprus with Greece. You might say I'm living in the past, but the hatred is still evident on both sides, and I seriously don't think you could expect these people to live in harmony after reunification.
David Walsh, UK

David Walsh has got his facts wrong. The Greek Cypriots were and are the government. The atrocities committed by the Turkish occupying forces have been documented. David, spreading misinformation does not help.
Mary, UK

The interests of Turkey and Greece on the island can easily be justified. But the interference of other nations and the EU is not good for either party. Forcing them to negotiate is OK but preferring one side over the other does not help at all.
Nihat, Turkey


The pot of gold that awaits Cyprus if it can sort this mess out and get in the EU is enormous

Paul, UK
I have had the privilege of visiting both halves of Cyprus and also crossed the UN buffer zone in Nicosi. Having spoken to people of both sides, they all seem to be in agreement that it was the other's fault. Through reading the history it seems as if Cyprus' problem had more to do with meddling from Athens and Ankara than Cypriots themselves.

Luckily most people seemed to want a settlement of some sorts although this will be tricky because Greek Cypriot people forced out of their homes by Turks want to go home. They won't accept a loose federation that disallows this but of course you could simply force a deal on the people in which both halves would have an equal state inside the federation using the same currency. The pot of gold that awaits Cyprus if it can sort this mess out and get in the EU is enormous. Turkey would probably accept such a deal because it would mean that current EU members would now have to take Turkey's application to join the EU seriously. The problem then lies with Greece because they really want to get a Cyprus settlement that annoys Turkey and at the same time gives Greece (and other EU anti-Turkey members) a good reason never to allow Turkey to join the EU which of course would be very bad!
Paul, UK


Time is the essence of building confidence

AG, Japan
I believe that a unified federal state applying strong EU principles for the protection of the individuality of the two ethnic groups as well as some geographic definition for the two federal areas will be a good way to start a new phase of trust-building and a new reality on the island. Then we need time. Time is the essence of building confidence based on economic prosperity fairly distributed between the two ethnic groups.
AG, Japan

It's exactly the same situation as Palestine and Northern Ireland. Two masses cannot occupy the same space at the same time but both sides are too proud to give in.
John, USA/Iceland


Let the border become a normal land border

Bernard, UK
If the two sides are at all interested in progress, then let the border become a normal land border with no more than the usual checkpoints and allow free mixing of the people from either side as well as migration for those who want it. If the people do this for a few years and realise they can get along then it will be time to talk about re-unification but to attempt to do so while such hostility and ignorance exists between them is just inviting violence.
Bernard, UK

Let the Cypriots have a national referendum on their own organised by the UN. Let them decide for themselves what direction to take and tell Greece and Turkey to stand back and let the Cypriots decide for themselves. If they cannot decide then let the island be separated and live in peace.
Demetri Rizos, USA

I think there's a way to talk around the problem, but I'll be dashed if I can see it.
Peter Bolton, UK in US


Cyprus is just one of the problems that Greece and Turkey have had to come to terms with

Michael, UK
Being a 28-year-old Greek I believe that I represent a generation that was brought up with a total apathy towards politics. Cyprus was and still is a very delicate matter that affects both the diplomatic but also the personal relations of people living on both sides. One could argue that Cyprus is just one of the problems that both Greece and Turkey have had to come to terms with. I sincerely believe that other countries that keep playing a diplomatic role in the region are the only ones who will really benefit of the continuation of the current situation. If Greece and Turkey can cooperate without having to be dictated in their policies by other countries then everything would be totally different. But I guess that applies for most countries in the world.
Michael, UK

There are two independent nations represented on that island. The situation is no different to Bosnia splitting from Yugoslavia. People should stop blaming Turkey. After all, Turkey is not the one that staged a military coup back in 1974. People should learn to deal with the facts.
Gok Yilmaz, US

I was born in 1978, four years after the invasion. I've been studying the history and facts about Cyprus for a long time now and have tried to write them here as objectively as possible but found out it takes up too much space. The extremists from both the Greek and Turkish sides are largely responsible for this situation as were the British authorities in the 1950s who used a policy of divide and rule. Generally, it's a world of foreign interests. I can't visit any other country by land means, so why should I be restricted in my own?
Costas, UK/Cyprus


The main problem in Cyprus has been, and still is, foreign interests

Andreas, Belgium/Cyprus
The main problem in Cyprus has been, and still is, foreign interests. There will never be a fair and long lasting solution to the problems there until outside powers and their local associates stop meddling around. A just solution should guarantee EU rights and obligations for all citizens including the freedom of movement, ownership and settlement and not create new geographic and power sharing divisions that serve nobody but outsiders.
Andreas, Belgium/Cyprus

The UN should broker an agreement that splits the island between Greece and Turkey and solve this dispute once and for all.
Joe, US

Why should Turkey suddenly want to allow 200,000 refugees back to their homes? As long as it remains a dependant US ally, they don't have to respect anybody's human rights. The West needs to open its eyes - Turkey will never give any human rights as long as we choose to appease its actions for the sake of the countries geo-political importance.
Carl, UK

It appears Greece has the weaker stand on thwarting the EU's efforts to enlarge their membership. Turkey's threat of annexing northern Cyprus will ignite another everlasting conflict between Greece and Turkey. Peace is under the EU's feet. And the people of Cyprus have an obvious choice.
Habib Hemani, USA

How sensible of Turkey to make a difficult situation even worse by their threats. And this from a country that wants to join the EU itself... what's even odder is that it's not even a European nation.
Michael, Dublin, Ireland

Michael, Dublin - you have hit the nail on the head. Why is the EU even considering Turkey's application, when it is proving to be a threat to security in the Eastern Mediterranean, with threats of war and annexation of the northern part of Cyprus? The EU needs to force Turkey to stay out of the Cyprus problem and let the Cypriots sort it out for themselves. The Turkish Cypriots are suffering enough under the occupation; they have time and time again stated that they do not want to be governed by Turkey. Remove Turkey and Denktash from the equation and the Cypriots will join together in peace with a common goal of EU membership.
Mark, London, UK

Mark and Michael: It's amazing how you are totally blurring the facts. Since the Ottoman Empire Turkey has been in constant relation with the west a lot more than with the east. Its greatest trading partners today are Italy, France, the USA and so on. It is the only true democracy in the Islamic world and Europe needs Turkey for precisely that reason.
Levy, UK

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