A regular stage of negotiations starts today between the President of Cyprus Glafcos Clerides and the leader of the unrecognized Turkish republic of Northern Cyprus Rauf Denktash. As a matter of fact, the contacts between the leaders of those two communities started at the end of the last year, but they were suspended for a certain period of time because of the Muslim religious holiday Kurban-Bayram.
The conflict between the Greeks and the Turkish actually started from the moment, when the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus proclaimed its independence back in 1960. The Cypriote Turkish were accusing the Greeks in their aspiration to the unitary state, in which the Turkish minority did not have a wish to live, thinking that their political, social and religious rights would be violated. The government of the neighboring Turkey was supporting them. That was around that time, when the Turkish media outlets started accusing the Cypriote Greeks, who were allegedly pursuing the Turkish community of the island. The conflict was aggravated more with the fact that Turkey and Greece had rather tense relations between them. As a result, Turkey dispatched its troops in 1974 to the northern part of the island under the pretence to prevent from the annexation of the island by Greece. The Turkey occupied one-third of the Cyprus territory.
The problem, however, was in the fact that both the Turkish and the Greek people were living on the entire territory of the island, not in some particular territories. There was an agreement achieved the next year, pursuant to which the Cypriote Turkish people had to move to the north of Cyprus, and the Greeks - to the part of the island, which was not occupied by the Turkish army. This transmigration led to even more conflicts: the Greeks and the Turkish had to leave their places of living, but at the same time it was the only way out of the situation to prevent from the mass collision between the Greeks and the Turkish back in those days.
Of course, the government of Cyprus never acknowledged the annexation of the northern part of the island. The government of Cyprus did not recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus either (in 1983). Well, this state is not recognized by anyone now, except for Turkey. Turkey was the country, which helped it to be established, and it still meets its ends with Ankara's help.
The contrast between the northern and the southern parts of the island is incredible from the economic point of view. The Greek part of Cyprus turned to a prospering state within the last 30 year, owing to the developed industry and tourism an offshore zones. The Turkish part of the island is very poor. Turkey is unable to render the sufficient economic help to its compatriots in Cyprus, and the foreign investors do not like the legal status of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. There have been some attempts made to develop the tourist business, but it will take a great deal of time for the resorts of the northern Cyprus to compete with the ones in the southern part of the island.
The government of Cyprus announced in 1990 that it was going to join the EU. The latter was quite positive towards those plans, but the dreams have not come true yet because of the conflict between the communities. Furthermore, Ankara said it the very beginning that it did not approve the idea. It is curious that Turkey is not a member of the European Union, although it is making some efforts to be incorporated into the EU anyway.
In the meantime, owing to the mediation of the European Union, which is really interested in the strategically important Cyprus, the process of the dialogue between the two communities of the island is moving from the dead point. It goes without saying that the solution of all the moot questions will take much time. The major problem is about the future status of the political status of the joint Cyprus - whether it is going to be a unitary state or a federative country. There has not been a considerable progress achieved on that so far. But the problem will be solved sooner or later, because the long conflict is not good for any of the interested parties.
Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov