Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders continued UN-led negotiations this week to reunify Cyprus. The small Mediterranean island gained its independence in 1960 from Great Britain, but its population is divided between ethnic Greeks and Turks. Violence has plagued the nation since that time, and a UN peacekeeping force has been in place since 1964. Currently the state is divided between the Greek rulers of the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which controls the northern part of the island and is recognized only by Turkey.
Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed in May of last year to work towards “a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality.” Under the proposed plan, a unified federal government with govern over two Constituent States with equal power. The most sensitive subject of the negotiation is how to compensate property owners who have suffered losses as a result of the conflict between the two groups. It is estimated that around 265,000 Cypriots lost their homes after fleeing during the 1960s and 70s.
The two sides will meet again on March 11th to address issues pertaining to the European Union. Cyprus joined the EU in 2004 and is represented there by the Greek Cypriot government. The EU has urged Turkey to encourage the reunification of Cyprus.