NEWS

Eroglu wins; hopes on Cyprus fade

Hopes that Cyprus could be heading for reunification were dented yesterday when hardliner Dervis Eroglu, who favors a two-state solution to the island’s division, was voted the new Turkish-Cypriot leader. With 98 percent of the votes counted by late last night, Eroglu had 50.37 percent of the vote compared to 42.84 percent for incumbent Mehmet Ali Talat. If Eroglu received under 50 percent, a runoff would be required but the 72-year-old was quick to claim victory. He said that he would continue with the peace talks that Talat had been taking part in negotiations with Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias over the past 18 months in an effort to reach a solution that «all of us can live with.» The Cypriot government, however, expressed its concern about the future of the negotiations. «Eroglu’s election is a negative development, bearing in mind the positions he holds and expresses,» said spokesman Stefanos Stefanou. «What is important now is to get to the fundamentals of this development, how we will handle matters, what our tactics will be, so that we are able implement the aims of a solution.» «Talks will continue because I want peace more than those who say I don’t,» said Eroglu. Ankara also supported the view that the new Turkish-Cypriot leader would not turn his back on talks with Christofias. «Turkish Cypriots must continue the talks, which is something Eroglu also believes in,» said Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country’s bid to join the European Union is partly being held up because of the ongoing problems on Cyprus. «It is our aim to find a solution by the end of the year. Some may wish to protract it… but we want it to be finished as soon as possible.» The Greek government had not commented on the result by late last night.