Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
Negotiating Turkey’s accession to the European Union hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing. But it may be about to get tougher still.
Europeans are already divided over the prospect of inviting a largely Muslim nation into their club of 27 states. And while some are attracted by Turkey’s huge economic potential, that’s frequently shadowed by its much-criticised human rights record.
As a result, Ankara’s membership negotiations with Brussels have, perhaps predictably, been slow.
Now a presidential election in northern Cyprus, a sliver of land only twice the size of London, is threatening to wreck any chance of a serious revival in those talks for years.
Greek Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, appear to have made little headway in the conundrum that has defied generations of international diplomats.
The leaders of Cyprus’s Greek and Turkish communities sipped coffee and called each other “comrade” as they launched a new round of talks on reuniting the island, whose 34-year division has exasperated the most committed of mediators.
This time, foreign diplomats and analysts say, a solution is in sight, thanks largely to the two moderate, leftist men heading the negotiations – Greek Cypriot Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot Mehmet Ali Talat.
Although it has been years since any violence has erupted on the island, the simmering feud has far-reaching effects onTurkey’s EU aspirations, its relations with fellow NATO member Greece and politics in the eastern Mediterranean.
In Cyprus, stepping out of line can be a deal breaker.
Ahead of Thursday’s dismantling of a symbol of the island’s division, it almost ended in disaster.
Balloons were released into the air, champagne corks popped and there were smiles all around when both sides opened the gates to a flood of human traffic at Ledra Street.
But two hours before the fireworks, Greek Cypriots were in a flap over the movements of Turkish Cypriot policemen, in a spat which could have threatened the reopening of Ledra Street after about half a century.