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Cypriot leaders still on track for reunification

Turkey ditches visa demands for Greek Cypriots

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Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades (R) and his Turkish counterpart Mustafa Akinci (L). PHOTO; BALKANEU.COM

23 May 2016

The leaders of Greek and Turkish Cypriots have expressed hopes of reaching a reunification deal by the end of 2016.

In a joint statement released last week, Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and his Turkish counterpart Mustafa Akinci said they share a common goal, since the island's reunification is a win-win solution to end four decades of division.

"We would like to underline our commitment to intensify our efforts in the coming months, with the aim of reaching a comprehensive settlement agreement within 2016," Anastasiades and Acinci stated, celebrating a year of "intensive negotiations" since 15 May 2015.

"Although there are still difficulties and differences, we are determined to show the necessary will and courage to overcome the remaining outstanding issues," they added, stressing that "a just and lasting settlement" would ensure stability in the wider eastern Mediterranean region.

However, it has been deemed essential by US, UK and Russian diplomatic officials alike that issues pertaining to territorial adjustments, power sharing and property rights should be settled beforehand.

The lack of resolution on Cyprus is one of the factors holding back Ankara's bid to join the European Union, yet Ankara has gotten new leverage on negotiating its place in the EU.

The government in Ankara will stop demanding visas from Greek Cypriots visiting Turkey but it will not recognise the Cypriot government in Nicosia, AP reports.

As part of the refugee relocation deal, Turkey negotiated the chance of visa-free short-term travel for its citizens in Europe by entering the Schengen free movement zone.

"We're not taking in refugees for thanks," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed in early April, demanding the review process for Turkey's EU membership be revisited.
"Some three million people are being fed on our budget," he clarified. "We have received a lot of thanks for our actions on the refugees and in the fight against terrorism. But we are not doing this for thanks."

Turkey is also to receive remuneration between three billion and six billion euros to accommodate refugees.

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