Cyprus leader backs reunification

Newly elected president wants UN-brokered talks with Turkish Cypriot side of island.

    Christofias, a communist, says he will not
    tamper with Cyprus' market economy [AFP]

    Congratulations
     
    Talas said: "I genuinely congratulate Mr Christofias and I call on him to co-operate in the process of negotiations which should start as soon as possible."

     

    Christofias, a communist who says he will not tamper with the island's market economy, secured victory in Sunday's run-off election on a wave of discontent with his predecessor's hardline policies towards Turkish Cypriots.

    Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, said in a statement to Christofias: "I would strongly encourage you to grasp this chance and without delay start negotiations under United Nations auspices with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community on a comprehensive settlement."

    The US and Britain also issued statements saying 2008 offered a window of opportunity and offering support.

    Historic vote

    The Cypriot press hailed the day as historic, both because Christofias becomes the island's first communist president, the only one in the 27-member EU, and because it presents a significant opportunity to end the island's stalemate.

    "After five wasted years ... he has a moral obligation to try to make up for lost ground," wrote the Cyprus Mail.

    The island has been split along ethnic lines since 1974 when Turkey invaded after a brief Greek-inspired coup.

    Reunification efforts broke down in 2004 when Greek Cypriots rejected a UN plan and a divided Cyprus joined the EU soon after.

    The EU recognises the Greek-Cypriot government in the south, where voting took place on Sunday, while only Turkey recognises the breakaway north.

    A UN team was expected on the island by early April to assess the potential for a settlement, diplomats said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Take a tour through East and West Jerusalem to see the difference in quality of life for Israelis and Palestinians.

    Stories from the sex trade

    Stories from the sex trade

    Dutch sex workers, pimps and johns share their stories.

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    As the stigma associated with being childless persists, some elderly women in India risk it all to become mothers.