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Talks on Reunifying Cyprus Fail

Greek and Turkish Cypriot negotiators failed Wednesday to agree on plans to reunify Cyprus. The U.N. is now expected to make a proposal, which the island's residents are to vote on in late April.


Last-ditch efforts failed: Annan (center) with UN co-workers in Switzerland

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan is said to have spoken to the negotiators individually to encourage compromise, but his efforts failed after over a week of talks on the reunification of Cyprus in the Swiss resort town of Bürgenstock. The Greek Cypriot leader Tassos Papadopulos reportedly refused to sign a paper authorizing a referendum.

"Everyone said his last word. Diplomacy is over," AP quoted a Turkish government functionary as saying.

Now it is up to Annan to unveil his proposal for reunification of the island, which has been divided since 1974. Annan's plan is expected to be put to Cypriot citizens in referenda on April 24. If either side rejects the peace plan, Cyprus will not be unified for the time being, and only the Greek Cypriot part of the island will join the European Union on May 1.

"Historic opportunity" missed?

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters in Berlin that he too had lobbied the two sides over the past few days not to miss the "historic opportunity" and to show flexibility and the will to compromise.

UN Friedensgespräche in Zypern

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (right), Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Talat (second right), Turkish Foreign Minister Serdar Denktash (second left) and an unidentified member of the Turkish Cypriot delegation during reunification talks on Wednesday.

Sticking points have been mainly related to the numbers of Greek and Turkish troops that would remain on the island, property rights, freedom of movement and EU law. The failed proposals, some details of which were leaked to the press, called for a republic led by a federal state made up of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Greek Cypriots and returnees would have been restricted from moving to the Turkish part of the island and from buying property there. Turkish soldiers would have remained stationed in the north as well.

Cyprus has been divided since Turkey invaded the north in response to a Greek Cypriot coup that was supported by Greece in 1974.

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