Newsletter: 1/2008 - Cyprus Must Overcome Challenges And Set Up A Partnership State

Bratislava Büyükelçiliği 06.03.2008

Financial Times / Letters to the Editor

Published: March 5 2008 02:00 | Last updated: March 5 2008 02:00

From Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat.

Sir, Last month's elections on the Greek Cypriot side have opened a new chapter in the history of our island. The newly elected leader of the Greek Cypriots, Demetris Christofias, and I now share a grave responsibility: to reach a settlement for Cyprus acceptable to both peoples, based on political equality in a new partnership structure.

Much has changed since 2004, when the Turkish Cypriot people voted in favour of the comprehensive settlement plan proposed by then United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, while Greek Cypriots voted against. Ironically, a few days later the Greek Cypriots, who had rejected the UN settlement proposal, were admitted to full membership of the European Union, whereas we, who had just voted to end the division of the island, remained excluded. Despite that disappointment, we remain committed to a European approach and a UN-sponsored comprehensive solution for Cyprus.

It will be a comprehensive solution, with a great deal of input from our friends in the EU; but the process must be led by the UN. For four decades the UN has been at the centre of peace-making efforts. There is a vast accumulation of work on the Cyprus problem, which will be the basis of any future discussion and should not be wasted.

There will be difficult issues to deal with. Mr. Christofias starts from a 75 per cent No vote, whereas I start from a 65 per cent Yes vote. The questions of property rights, of the preservation of our cultural heritage, of security arrangements, and most importantly for partnership in the future government of our island, will not be easy to resolve.

But they can and must be resolved. The details can be worked out; the goal is to establish a new partnership state in Cyprus, based on the political equality of the two peoples and the equal status of two constituent states. Only a settlement on that basis will be approved by the peoples of the island in a simultaneous and separate popular vote.

The election result demonstrates the desire of Greek Cypriots to change and move forward. I am unreservedly committed to the search for a settlement. I believe a settlement to be in the interests of my people, of the Greek Cypriots, of the island as a whole and of the European Union and the wider international community.

I am realistic. There will be tough talking ahead, and problems will inevitably arise. But I am determined to overcome them.

Mehmet Ali Talat,

President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

The Financial Times Limited 2008


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