Cyprus president 'plans for unity'

Greek Cypriot president hoping to meet his Turkish Cypriot counterpart this month.


    Greek Cypriots rejected a UN backed reunification plan in a referendum in 2004 [EPA]

    "Our wish and our efforts are to have the issue solved during this term. If it was only up to us, I could say it will be solved. But it also depends on the other side."

    After winning the elections, Christofias said that he wanted to make a serious effort to resolve the issue and urged support from everyone.

    Earnest efforts
     
    Meanwhile, Talat, Christofias's counterpart in Turkish controlled Cyprus, said that there was hope for resolving the Cyprus problem, by the end of this year.
     
    On Wednesday, Christofias said that though his first meeting with Talat would only be exploratory, he hoped the two would agree to open two new crossing points on the divided island.
     
    "The only plan
    I have is to reunite the island"


    Dimitris Christofias, Cypriot president

    One would be at Ledra Street, a busy pedestrian thoroughfare in the heart of Cyprus' capital, and the other at Limnitis in the northwest of the island. 
     
    The president said that Ledra street embodies the island's division and opening a crossing there would be highly symbolic for the people of the island.
     
    There have been five crossing points between the two sides of the island since Turkish Cypriot authorities relaxed restrictions in 2003.
     
    Christofias said that his ultimate goal would be a unified, demilitarised Cyprus.
     
    "We have no plans to touch the British bases in Cyprus but full demilitarisation of the island remains a long-term goal," he said.
     
    Christofias also said that Cyprus would not recognise Kosovo as an independent country,  out of respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia.
     
    Division pangs
     
    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded the island in response to a coup, by supporters of union with Greece.
     
    The island joined the European Union in 2004, but the bloc's benefits are only enjoyed by the internationally recognized Greek-Cypriot south.
     
    A breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the north is recognised only by Turkey.
     
    Peace talks between the two sides have been stalled since 2004, when Greek Cypriots voted in a referendum to reject a UN backed reunification plan.
     
    Turkish Cypriots had accepted the plan in a separate vote.

    Christofias has previously said he is ready to accept the possibility of a federation with the Turkish north, on condition that Turkish troops leave the island.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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