The leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots will resume talks on Friday, after more than 40 years of efforts to reunify their island. And yet this time there is real hope in the air – hope that at last all sides can realize that there may be more benefits to ending the conflict than in maintaining the status quo following Turkey’s invasion in 1974.
Both Nicos Anastasiades, president of the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, and Mustafa Akinci, president of the breakaway state in northern Cyprus recognized only by Ankara, believe in a bicommunal federation. They come from the same city – Limassol – and belong to the same generation. They know what is at stake.
Akinci won a resounding victory recently and has the credibility to move toward a solution. Anastasiades’s position on reunification, too, was no secret before his election. This means both should be able to confront hardliners in their own communities and push for a solution. For the first time, Turkey may also see the benefits of freeing itself of the Cyprus issue and allow Cypriots to determine their own future. All in the region have a stake in a happy outcome.