Cyprus bourse surges on hope of a settlement

NICOSIA (AP) – Prices on the Cyprus Stock Exchange, which has been languishing for months, surged 5.64 percent yesterday, following hopes that the war-divided island could join the European Union as a united nation on May 1. Turnover exceeded 3 million pounds ($6 million), three times the average of recent months. The financial interest was sparked by an agreement between the Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot leaders last week to resume negotiations on the basis of a United Nations reunification plan and hold referenda on the deal on April 21. Cyprus has been split into a Greek-Cypriot controlled south and the Turkish-occupied north since Turkey invaded in 1974 in the wake of an abortive coup by supporters of union with Greece. A breakaway Turkish-Cypriot state in the north is only recognized by Turkey, which maintains 40,000 troops there. Cyprus is due to formally join the EU on May 1, but EU laws and benefits will only apply to the internationally recognized south, pending reunification.