Turkey Calls for Cyprus Deal by Year’s End

Posted July 9th, 2011 at 2:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Turkey is calling for a deal to reunify Greek and Turkish sectors of Cyprus by the end of the year in hopes that the island can assume the European Union presidency next year as a unified country.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Saturday that if terms of a reunification can be settled in the next six months, Turkish and Greek Cypriots could vote on the deal in early 2012. He said a “new state” would legitimize a Cyprus EU presidency later in 2012.

Cyprus was divided in 1974 into a Turkish Cypriot north and a Greek Cypriot south when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of a union with Greece. Greek Cypriots represent the island internationally and in the EU.

Davutoglu said in the divided Cypriot capital of Nicosia that it would be “another mistake” and “against European values” if the island is not united and only one side is seen as representing the entire island during the EU presidency.

Earlier this week, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he expects Turkish Cypriot President Dervis Eroglu and Greek Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias to resolve their differences by October. The two sides have made some progress in how they might govern themselves in a two-zone federation.

But so far they have been unable to settle boundary disputes or private property claims stemming from the 1974 war.

If a deal is reached, both sides would have to approve it in separate referendums. In a 2004 vote, Turkish Cypriots voted for reunification but Greek Cypriots did not.