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Tuesday, 17 June 2008


This article written by me appeared in the English section of "Parikiaki", London's Greek newspaper, on 12 June. I hope to be able to write more good news pieces on Cyprus in the future.

"Nicosia's Ledra Street, a dead end guarded by soldiers not so very long ago, now stretches its full length through both the south and the north of the city. I was fortunate to see the transformation for myself at the end of May. Bathed in hot sunshine, the once downtrodden and under-populated road was full of life, testimony to the new-found hope that there may finally be a resolution to the long standing division of Cyprus and that the beautiful island will be reunited again. Joining the milling throng, I followed in the footsteps of Mehmet Ali Talat, when he walked over the Green Line shortly after the crossing was opened. I too tried ice-cream from Iracles, surely the best on the island.

"The optimism in both parts of Cyprus is palpable. George Iacovou, the first of those I met on May 29, was quietly confident, while the British High Commissioner, Peter Millett, thought this was the possibly the best opportunity so far for progress on the Cyprus problem. I also talked to representatives in the north: Ozdil Nami, Mr Talat's special representative, and Mehmet Cakici of the Social Democratic Party, both of whom felt there was movement towards a settlement.

"The meetings between Dimitris Christofias and Mehmet Ali Talat on 21 March and 23 May have set the process towards a settlement on a forward trajectory. There is a real sense that the two leaders mean business. For the first time there is a commitment to ending the problem, a desire by both leaders to move on and forge an agreement which will command support from both south and north. In the end it has to be a Cypriot solution to a Cypriot problem. It is looking very much that this is the way things are going.

"One of the barriers in the past to any final agreement was that the negotiations were carried out for Cypriots not by Cypriots. I do not think that mistake will be repeated this time. The international community seems more aware that its role is to facilitate when required and be generally supportive. For a solution to work in both the short and the long term it has to be negotiated as well as accepted by Cypriots.

"The infrastructure required to work out the detail required for meaningful talks has been put in place, a sure sign that all concerned are taking the process seriously. Working groups to look at the broader issues and technical committees to delve into detail are now well underway. While in Cyprus I was able to talk to Costas Apostolides, a member of one of the technical committees, who was encouraging about the way things were going.

"I left blissfully sunny Cyprus for the wet weather of London full of hope. There is still
a long way to go; there will be no quick fix. If the old attitudes of distrust can be put aside, I believe the end of the Cyprus problem may now be in sight."

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