Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
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Media Watch 2004

24 January 2004
Source: Guardian
Author: Helena Smith
Comment: The following article appeared in the Guardian of London on 24 January 2004.
Turkish generals back talks on Cyprus

Turkish military leaders agreed yesterday to resume talks on the UN plan to reunite Cyprus, taking what may prove to be the decisive step towards ending 30 years of division.

After a four-hour meeting, the national security council, composed of military commanders and politicians, said it hoped the island could be reunited before it joins the EU on May 1. It was the first time that the council had endorsed the plan since talks collapsed 10 months ago.

While insisting that the "realities of the island" - the existence of the self-declared Turkish republic in the north of the island - should be taken into account, the council said it hoped for a speedy solution.

Nevertheless, its support for the UN proposals shows that the commanders are now ready to negotiate on the basis of the two communities reuniting as largely autonomous components of a state with a single currency and seat at the UN.

While the EU, Greece, the Turkish government and the Greek and Turkish Cypriots have all backed a settlement, the army and the veteran Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash have held back.

The Turkish prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan, who is due to meet President Bush in Washington next week, is expected to ask the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, to resume the negotiations this weekend.

The apparent softening of the Turkish army's stance comes after unprecedented US military diplomacy and a reported assurance from the Pentagon that Turkey will not suffer militarily if Cyprus is finally reunited.

Washington is more keen than ever to solve the Cyprus issue because of the island's strategic position in an area vital to its war on terror. A settlement will further anchor Turkey, Nato's only Muslim state, to the west by facilitating its entry to the EU."