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Media Watch 2004

14 February 2004
Source: BBC
Comment: The following article appeared on BBC online on 14 February 2004.
Press cautious on Cyprus talks' progress

Some papers see obstacles aheadThe striking of a landmark deal over the future of Cyprus is seen by papers on both sides of the divided island as a significant step towards a solution.

Yet commentators point out that the most difficult stage may yet lie ahead.
Turkey's papers seem to be generally happy with the New York deal, but the Greek press appears less convinced that it will help bring the long-running dispute to a positive conclusion.

An editorial in the English-language Greek Cypriot Cyprus Mail hails the agreement reached in New York on Friday as "Annan's master stroke".

"It is the first time that both sides have agreed to a peace procedure that cannot collapse or grind to a halt. It is the first time that the two sides have a real incentive to negotiate constructively, because time will be working against them," it says.

Now the hard part begins

I Simerini
But a commentator in the same paper also cautions against premature jubilation.

"It fell a few hours short of being 'The Valentine's Day Deal' but may yet have the ignominy of being known as 'The Friday the 13th Agreement'," the writer, Jean Christou, warns.

'Light at end of tunnel'

The nationalist Greek Cypriot I Simerini also takes a sober line. "Now the hard part begins", the headline reads. The paper acknowledges that "a new historic period is ipso facto beginning", but fears that "the prospect is nearer to despair than to the hope that is officially expressed".

The independent Politis is more optimistic, and urges politicians to take their cue from the young people of Cyprus.

Yesterday was an historic day
Basaran Duzgun, Kibris "The younger generations... do not consider an agreement for a solution as a bitter compromise but as the beginning for development and creation, a chance for them to live free in their fatherland... without barbed wires, without armies and without paramilitaries."

The Turkish Cypriot paper Kibris is similarly upbeat, running its main front-page story on the agreement under the banner headline "Towards a United Cyprus and Europe".

"Yesterday was an historic day," a commentary by columnist Basaran Duzgun declares. "The Turkish Cypriots entered a tunnel at the end of which they see light and hope. That light shows the road to a unified Cyprus and the EU. Our duty now is to walk toward that light."

Mixed views in Athens

The response of the Greek press ranges from the independent daily To Vima's confident declaration that "The Cyprus problem has been solved" to the Communist Rizospastis's more gloomy assessment that "The Cyprus problem is entering a dark tunnel".

The right-wing Elevtheros Tipos also takes a bleak view of what lies ahead.

"The Annan plan means converting Cyprus into a US-British protectorate, the creation of a new Bosnia in the heart of south-eastern Europe, the establishment of another Trojan horse within the EU, [and] Greece's subjugation to a US-Turkish zone of influence."

Positive press in Ankara

The centre-right Turkish paper Hurriyet carries a front-page picture of the Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders shaking hands in New York, with an accompanying report headed "this picture may lead to a Nobel Prize".

The centrist paper Milliyet notes that "the main challenge lies ahead" but says "different conditions that enable us to be more optimistic about the new process" mean the current negotiations have a better chance of succeeding than previous ones.

The centrist Radikal hails the talks as "Light seen at the end of the tunnel".

And the Islamist paper Yeni Safak says that the outcome of the talks represents a diplomatic victory for Turkey.

"Turkey has for the first time moved one step ahead of Greece by seizing the initiative concerning the Cyprus dispute in the international arena and has achieved a diplomatic success.""