NEWS

Turk-Cypriot polls concern Nicosia

Authorities in Nicosia were unanimous yesterday in their assessment of Sunday’s election victory by hardline nationalists in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus as «a negative development.» Nevertheless, they pledged not to give up on United Nations-buffered peace talks between Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, head of the moderate leftist Republican Turkish Party. Reacting to the election result, which saw the right-wing National Unity Party garner 44 percent of the vote, 15 percentage points ahead of Talat’s party, Andros Kyprianou, the secretary general of the ruling communist AKEL party, vowed to «persist (for a solution) within the framework of the United Nations.» «We want to make it clear that whatever has been agreed to with Talat so far is not subject for renegotiation as far as we are concerned,» Kyprianou said. It is thought that authorities will raise this issue with Greece’s Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who is due to visit Nicosia tomorrow and Thursday. There had been no official comment from Athens on the polls by late yesterday. Though Sunday’s election result will not dislodge Talat from his post, there are fears in Nicosia that it would curb his ability to negotiate a settlement and a growing sense of Ankara controlling the situation. «Leaders in the occupied territories come and go, but the influence of Turkey remains constant,» said Dimitris Syllouris, the president of Cyprus’s European Party Evroko. Cypriot Archbishop Chrysostomos also expressed his conviction that the poll results would have a negative impact on the latest peace drive on the divided island. «We should not delude ourselves, as it is Ankara which gives the orders and dictates the official line,» he said, adding: «Whoever leads the illegal state cannot create policy without the backing of Ankara.»