NEWS

Hope for new talks following Talat win

Athens and Nicosia expressed guarded optimism yesterday about the possible reunification of Cyprus following the election of pro-EU candidate Mehmet Ali Talat as Turkish-Cypriot leader on Sunday. «I hope that through the voting in the north, a new spirit will be created, a new atmosphere which might help in the creation of the necessary prerequisites for starting a new round of talks,» said Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos in Prague yesterday. Talks to reunify the island broke down last April when Greek Cypriots rejected a plan drawn up by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Papadopoulos has since said that he wants some changes made to the Annan plan but has refused to elucidate. Papadopoulos also labeled the departure of Rauf Denktash, the nationalist leader who opposed talks with Nicosia, from the Turkish-Cypriot helm as a «positive step» yesterday. Athens appeared equally pleased over the outcome of the elections. «We hope the result… will mark the beginning of a new era with the adoption of a new policy by the Turkish-Cypriot leadership,» the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that any effort to reunify the island would have to be «properly adjusted» to satisfy both sides. Talat, who gained 55.6 percent of the vote, said he was keen to hold talks with Papadopoulos. The Cypriot president took a more cautious line yesterday, saying, «I believe a new round of talks must be very carefully planned this time.»