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    Diplomats worry at slow pace of Turkish-Greek Cypriot talks

    HotNewsTurkey with wires
    06 Ekim 2008 - 12:51Son Güncelleme : 06 Ekim 2008 - 15:11

    A month after Greek and Turkish Cypriots on the divided island started reunification talks, diplomats are frustrated at the slow pace of negotiations which could make or break Turkey's bid to join the European Union.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and his Greek Cypriot counterpart Demetris Christofias are currently holding reunification talks on the Mediterranean island, which has been divided since 1964 when Turkish Cypriots were forced to withdraw into enclaves. 

    Christofias and Talat are scheduled to attend the next round of the talks on Oct. 10.

    "It's not fatigue, it's something a bit short of disappointment. Maybe we were a little too optimistic before," Reuters quoted a diplomat close to consultations between the two moderate leaders as saying.

    "I think we would need some indication pretty soon that this process is producing some results," the diplomat said.

    "There is no spectacular progress (which is) not to say no progress at all," Christofias told journalists on Sunday.

    "I can't say I'm pessimistic, we have just started ... I'm going to remain cautiously optimistic even though I get frustrated too sometimes, it's natural."

    Divided by arguments over territory, property, governance and power-sharing, the leaders will continue discussions on the latter two issues this Friday.

    "That was supposed to be one of the least challenging topics. At this pace we are looking at meetings dragging on until the summer," another western diplomat told Reuters.

    In a sign of the importance the international community has vested in the process, heavyweights have started to weigh in. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and former Algerian Foreign Minister Lakhdar Brahimi will be in Cyprus on Oct. 8-9.

    "It's a reminder that a solution has a wider influence in the region and that for the sake of peace we have to be more flexible," Ozdil Nami, senior adviser to Talat, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

    Diplomats worry that after three rounds of talks, and several preparatory meetings, the tone of interlocutors has not changed. They cite public statements by both leaders, which have riled the other and given fodder to an information-hungry media.

    "It makes the negotiation more difficult," said the western diplomat.

     

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