Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat said on Friday (May 29th) chances are “quite high” for settling the Cyprus problem by the end of this year or early next. In an interview with Reuters, however, he warned that the current process may be the last chance to reunify the divided island. “If we miss this opportunity, we may not find one again,” he stressed.
Talat added that Turkey actively supports the process on the island as the Cyprus issue is directly linked to its own EU membership bid. Athens and Nicosia have repeatedly accused Turkey of impeding the reunification process by refusing to withdraw its troops from northern Cyprus and imposing “unacceptable demands”.
In other news Friday, Turkey reacted sharply to an announcement by Cyprus that it intends to hire a US company to start oil exploration in its exclusive economic zone in the Mediterranean Sea. “Such actions carry a potential for creating tension and are violating the rights of the Turkish Cypriots over the island’s natural resources,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement, urging the EU to intervene. The Cypriot government dismissed Turkey’s objections.