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Dallas Morning News Editorial 13/05/2002

The divided island nation of Cyprus isn't getting many headlines these days. The world's attention is focused elsewhere - the explosive Middle East and the war against terrorism in Central and South Asia. However, talks to reunify Cyprus' Greek and Turkish parts are gaining new urgency. The United Nations' June deadline for reaching a settlement is fast nearing, and many of the hard compromises that would be required to end the 28-year division have not been made.

Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot negotiators should seize peace and reconciliation while the opportunity presents itself. The obvious solution is the one endorsed by the United States and the legitimate government of Cyprus but rejected by the puppet government of the third of Cyprus that is under control of Turkey, namely to create a bizonal, bicommunal federation. A central government would be responsible for foreign policy, defense and certain federal issues. The Greek and Turkish parts would handle local affairs. From such an arrangement a host of benefits would flow. All 763,000 Cypriots could enjoy the fruits of Cyprus' membership in the European Union, beginning in 2004, not just Greek Cypriots. The European Union would receive Turkey's application for membership with greater enthusiasm. With Cyprus' installation, Turkish would become an official language of the European Union, giving further impetus to Turkey's application to join. Relations would improve between Greece and Turkey, members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization whose ancient animosity constantly threatens to split the military alliance.

Turkey should grasp the sense of a unified Cyprus. It should drop its foolish threat to formally annex the Turkish Cypriot part if the European Union offers membership to Cyprus before a settlement is reached. Carrying out the threat would put Turkey in violation of international law and severely harm its longstanding aspiration to fully integrate with Europe. The United States should continue to urge Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to negotiate in good faith and to risk changing the unacceptable status quo. A world fraught with turmoil desperately needs examples of people choosing peace over conflict. Peace in Cyprus would be a gift for all mankind.

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