NEWS

Buzek calls for unified Cyprus soon

NICOSIA (AFP) – European Parliament chief Jerzy Buzek said yesterday the continent wanted to see a united Cyprus take charge of the EU presidency in 2012. «A united Cyprus holding the presidency of the EU is our dream,» Buzek said during a trip to the divided Mediterranean island which is slated to take up the role in 21 months. Buzek was talking to reporters after meeting with President Dimitris Christofias on his first visit to Nicosia, where he is also due to make a keynote speech to parliament. The speaker of the European Parliament is scheduled to cross the UN-patrolled ceasefire line today for talks with Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu. «I trust in both leaders to reach a comprehensive solution, which is important not only for Cyprus and for the region, but also for the whole EU, as you are… in the crucial strategic position for all of us,» he said. The Polish politician said he believed that «a mutually satisfactory agreement is possible» between Cyprus’s Greek and Turkish leaders. Cyprus has been divided since Turkey invaded the north in 1974. The coup was short-lived, but Ankara has maintained about 40,000 troops in the northern third since the invasion. The latest peace process resumed in September 2008 under much optimism that a deal could be reached, although more than two years of direct negotiations have produced no concrete results. Lack of progress on Cyprus settlement negotiations is hampering Turkey’s own EU accession bid. Cyprus joined the European Union in May 2004, a week after Greek Cypriots rejected a UN reunification blueprint, even though a majority of Turkish Cypriots backed the plan. Christofias and Eroglu are to resume peace talks tomorrow after a month’s recess. They will jointly open a new crossing point the next day in the island’s isolated northwest.