Cypriots commit to settlement

Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat yesterday issued a joint statement expressing their commitment to the creation of a bizonal federation on the island, assuaging fears that the Turkish side had been considering a two-state settlement. The statement issued by the two men referred to «a federal government,» comprising «a constituent Turkish-Cypriot state and a constituent Greek-Cypriot state of equal status.» The same declaration confirmed that the two community leaders had «an open and productive discussion» and reviewed the outcome of their previous talks on March 21. The two men reportedly ordered their representatives to examine the progress of ongoing discussions by working technical groups from both sides within the next 15 days. According to the same statement, these representatives will examine the possibility of developing «political and military trust-building measures» between the two sides. They will also seek the opening of the Limniti barricade and other crossings following the historic decision in March to open up Ledra Street in the divided capital of Nicosia. As for Christofias and Talat, they decided they would have their next face-to-face meeting in the second half of June «for a fresh assessment.» Until then, Christofias told reporters, it was imperative for both sides to make intensive efforts to bridge the difficulties being faced by the working groups. «We are intent on finding a solution – this has to become clear,» Christofias said. Talat said the two men would discuss at their next meeting when to move ahead with fresh peace talks. Talat’s comments came just a day after Cyprus government officials expressed fears that Ankara foresees the creation of two separate states on Cyprus. The concerns were provoked by a recent statement by Turkey’s National Security Council referring to «the existence of two separate peoples and two democracies» on the island.