Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
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.
Fed up with former president Tassos Papadopoulos, who tearfully asked Greek Cypriots to vote down a U.N. re-unification plan in 2004, voters elected Christofias this year and turned the tide on an issue that has long baffled the international community.
Or have they? Local analysts warn against excessive euphoria, saying that the obvious positive climate between the two leaders needs to trickle down to the ground for a deal to be made. Both communities must approve any solution in simultaneous referendums.
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.