Both progress and tension in Cyprus issue in 2008

Cyprus talks, which was interrupted when Greek rejection of UN plan, resumed following the victory of Christofias, AKEL Chairman, in the Greek presidential election.

Both progress and tension in Cyprus issue in 2008
Cyprus talks, which was interrupted when Greek Cypriots rejected a UN plan (Annan plan for solution of the Cyprus issue) in the twin referendums held on April 24, resumed in September 11 following the victory of Demetris Christofias, AKEL Chairman, in the presidential election held in Greek Cypriot part of the island.

Former Greek Cypriot Leader, Tassos Papadopulos was eliminated from the presidential race in the 1st round of the election held in February. Christofias won the election in the second round and became the new leader of the Greek Cypriots. With Christofias assuming the leadership, a new hope for the solution of the Cyprus issue began to rise.

The Lokmaci border gate, the symbol of separation in the island as the initial place of division which remained closed for 45 years, was opened to civilian crossing reciprocally.

The exploration for oil in the island continued to be a source of tension as talks continued.

Extensive talks

Following a four year halt in negotiations, Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot leader Christofias got together on September 3 to shape the procedure of extensive talks. Extensive talks began on September 11 under the "administration and power sharing" topic. Leaders met 13 times through out the year and discussed several issues related to this topic. Talks did not proceed at the expected pace and efficiency due to Christofias's busy foreign visit traffics.

In the aftermath of the Greek Cypriot presidential election, the two leaders met four times on March 21, May 23, July 1 and July 25 under the new process.

With the help of their representatives, Talat and Christofias made five months of preparation before the beginning of talks.

Initially the two leaders agreed to form working groups and technical committees. During the meetings held for the assessment of the work of these groups and committees, Talat and Christofias committed to "a solution based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal state with political equality" and discussed single sovereignty and single citizenship.

The leaders who launched the extensive talks under the UN SG's good will mission, agreed to carry a possible solution --protecting the fundamental and legitimate rights of both Turkish and Greek Cypriots, that is acceptable to both parties-- to twin referendums.

Leaders meet for 13 times

Talat and Christofias, along with their delegations, met for 13 times at the buffer zone in Lefkosa through out the year. UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer and United Nations (UN) Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus, Taye-Brook Zerihoun also attended most of these meetings.

Leaders discussed subtopics under "Adminstration and Power Sharing", one of the 6 main headings.

These subtopics were: "powers to be left to the federal government," "executive branch," "legislation," "judiciary," "federal waters and federal police," "public administration," "public service commission," and "independent bodies."

Talks showed that leaders had disagreement over most of the issues. During talks, the Turkish Cypriot side proposed a "presidential council"
--similar to that of Switzerland-- while the Greek Cypriot side proposed a "presidential system."

While Turkish Cypriot party view the guaraunteurship issue as one of the fundamental elements of a solution, Greek Cypriot party claims that an EU member state did not need guaraunteurship.

Turkish army chief's visit to TRNC

A rather significant visit took place in Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on March 26th. Turkey's Former General Staff Chief Gen. Yasar Buyukanit who visited the island as the formal guest of the President Talat, gave out the message that Turkish military presence in the island was for peace and Turkish troops in the island maintained peace in the island since 1974, adding that troops would remain in the island until a lasting and just solution to the issue was found.

Tension over oil exploration in Cyprus

Turkish Cypriot side reacted to news that the Greek Cypriot Administration would start exploring for possible oil reservoirs in waters between Cyprus and Egypt, and regarded the attempt as provocative and irresponsible and declared that it would not make concessions over its rights.

Greek Cypriot Administration's exploration for oil in the Mediterranean in November and December caused the tension in the region to escalate. When Turkish Naval Ships intervened to ships exploring oil on behalf of Greek Cypriot Administration, Christofias sent two letters to the UN complaining about the intervention. Talat responded to this complaint with a letter sent to UN SG Ban Ki-Moon. Talat asked Christofias to halt the exploration while talks were in progress.

Tension over oil exploration is expected to continue in 2009.

Last Mod: 01 Ocak 2009, 14:35
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