Turkey hopes for Cyprus referendum in early 2012
09 July 2011, Saturday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM WITH REUTERS,
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu traveled to Lefkoşa to meet with Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu.
Turkey hopes terms for the reunification of Cyprus can be agreed by the end of the year so that a referendum can take place in early 2012, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Saturday during a visit to the Turkish Cyprus. "We hope to find a solution to the Cyprus problem by the end of the year, and hold a referendum in the early months of next year so that Cyprus can take on the presidency of the EU as a new state that represents the whole island,"
Davutoğlu said in the divided Cypriot capital of Lefkoşa.
Cyprus was divided by a Turkish intervention in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. Its Greek Cypriots represent the island internationally and in the European Union, while Turkey is the only country to recognise the Turkish Cypriot state.
The Cyprus dispute is a major obstacle for Turkey's bid to join the European Union, aside from opposition from EU heavyweights France and Germany.
Greek Cypriots say Turkey cannot join the bloc until the Cyprus conflict is resolved.
The EU also expects Turkey to implement the Ankara Protocol, whereby Turkish ports and airports will be opened to traffic from Greek Cyprus. Turkey says the EU should also end its blockade of the Turkish Cyprus.
"A solution will bring real peace to the eastern Mediterranean and truly unite Europe," Davutoğlu said during the joint news conference with the President of Turkish Cyprus, Derviş Eroğlu.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said after meeting Eroğlu and Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias in Geneva on Thursday that he expected the two sides to overcome their differences by October.
Peace talks have stumbled on since being relaunched in 2008. In coming months the UN team acting as a facilitator could take a more active role in peace talks.
In principle, both sides agree to reunite Cyprus as a two-zone federation, but they have been unable to reconcile differences ranging from re-drawing existing boundaries, to property claims by thousands uprooted in conflict.
Ban said in Geneva that if the sides were able to reach convergence on all core issues -- defined by the UN as EU issues, economy, governance, property, security and territory -- it would pave the way towards convening a final, international conference.
Territorial and broader security issues involving the roles of Cyprus's guarantor powers - Britain, Greece and Turkey - have barely been touched in negotiations.
Any agreement the two sides reach must go to a plebiscite. In a referendum in 2004 Turkish Cypriots voted for reunification, but Greek Cypriots rejected it.