Monday, April 20, 2009
Turkish Cypriot nationalists won a parliamentary victory on Sunday that could set back efforts to reunite Cyprus and further hinder the integration of the entire island nation into the European Union. The winning party is officially known as the National Unity Party or UBP. It has traditionally advocated separate sovereignty for the northern and southern halves of Cyprus, which has been divided since Turkey invaded in 1974. Greek Cypriots traditionally reject separate sovereignty and wish to see the island nation reunited. Talat, the current leader of the ruling Turkish Party, had begun reunification talks last September. The election exposes divisions among Turkish Cypriots over reunification. This latest election will likely limit Talat's ability to negotiate a settlement, which must be approved by a referendum. Talat has suggested that the vote reflects the disappointment of Turkish Cypriots with the EU and the international community for failure to bring an end to the economic isolation of the northern part of the island. The EU had promised to end that economic isolation after Turkish Cypriots backed a 2004 UN plan to reunify Cyprus; but those efforts stalled when the UN plan was rejected by Greek Cyrpriots in the south.