NEWS

Weary Cypriots are unsurprised by the reunification failure

NICOSIA – The saddest thing for Cypriots, of course, is that they have seen it all before. A peace plan to reunite Greek and Turkish Cypriots. High hopes of returning to homes abandoned decades ago. Dramatic last-minute negotiations. Then a resounding return to earth as the Cyprus peace jinx strikes again as it has done four times now since the island was partitioned 29 years ago. It is no surprise, then, that the people least surprised by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s failure to seal a peace deal in The Hague yesterday were Cypriots themselves. «I expected it to end like this and I think things are going to be worse now in terms of cementing the final partition of the island,» said Yiorgos Marcou, 28, a Greek-Cypriot builder. Turkish-Cypriot worker Gulsefa Atakan, 53, said his «morale about the future had reached zero» after the latest setback. «I wish the Annan plan was never introduced. It gave us hope, a hope which is obviously now a false one,» he said. «As a Turkish Cypriot, I now wonder what our future will be, what my children’s future will be.» Fellow Turkish Cypriot Ahmet Sonmez, 38, was also uncertain about what lay ahead. «People here are still talking about the past, we need to look to the future.» Both sides criticized the role Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash played in the breakdown of the talks. «Even if a hundred different Annan plans are presented there will be no solution if Denktash is still the leader,» said Sanem, a 27-year-old Turkish-Cypriot schoolteacher who did not want to give his last name. «Many younger people want change, and many are planning to leave the island,» Sanem said. Opposition Republican Turkish Party leader Mehmet Ali Talat added his voice. «We have lost an opportunity, we have rejected the best plan to date that could have solved the Cyprus problem, and we all know Denktash is responsible for this.» Greek-Cypriot salesman Martinos Christodoulou, 45, was equally scathing of Denktash. «I’m unhappy about the outcome but as long as Denktash was involved this was always going to be the outcome. All he wants is his little kingdom,» he said. The sense of uncertainty set off by the breakdown of the talks fed into the Nicosia stock market where the all-share index hit a new year-low of 82.95 points, down 3.6 percent. The blue chip FTSE/CySE index fell even further, down 6.1 percent to 313 points. «What happened in The Hague took an already uncertain market and tipped it over the edge,» said one Nicosia analyst. «It’s added to the general bleakness.» «There is an unknown factor as regards the Turkish Cypriots,» he said. «Will they come over here looking for jobs, EU passports and a better life?»