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Cyprus' ethnically divided communities not expect to be reunified

Cyprus' ethnically divided communities do not expect the Mediterranean island to be reunified soon.

The United Nations-commissioned poll found that 57 percent of Greek Cypriots and 70 percent of Turkish Cypriots do not see a settlement of the decades-old problem in the near future.

The island has been divided into a Greek Cypriot south represented by the internationally recognized government and a Turkish Cypriot north since 1974, when Turkey invaded after a failed Athens-backed coup by supporters of union with Greece.

The poll was published on the third anniversary of separate referenda, in which Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected a U.N.-brokered peace plan. Turkish Cypriots approved the plan.

Reunification efforts have made no progress since.

CYMAR Market Research and Prologue Consulting conducted the survey between Jan. 26 and Feb.19, using a sample of 1,000 Greek Cypriots and 1,000 Turkish Cypriots, as well as 350 members of both communities living in the U.N.-patrolled buffer zone that separates north from south. No margin of error was given.

The survey found that most people in both communities see day-to-day contact as essential to pave the way for reunification, but there is little cooperation between the two groups.

Ninety percent of Turkish Cypriots and 87 percent of Greek Cypriots said they have not had any substantial personal or professional contacts with each other.

"It just seems that the mechanism ... has not yet been created to effectively allow such contacts to take place," said Alexandros Lordos, a polling consultant.

He said respondents who did have contacts with members of the other community usually reported a subsequent increase in trust in that community.

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