Talks began again last week on the reunification of Cyprus, one of the world’s longest-running disputes.
It all started in 1974. Following hostilities between the island’s 1.2 million Greeks and Turks, which was made worse by an incursion of Turkish troops, a line was drawn, even through the capital Nicosia. United Nations forces were sent to keep peace. The European Union passed up a chance to insist on reunification in 2004, when it admitted Greek Cyprus to the EU without first requiring it to arrive at agreement with Turkish Cyprus.
Ironically, the EU was acting then at the insistence of Greece, which now is a serious problem for the EU and the eurozone based on its irresponsible fiscal policies.
Various attempts have been made over the years to negotiate an end to the division on Cyprus. One that came close was in 2004, when the Greek Cypriots in a referendum rejected an accord that the Turkish Cypriots had voted to accept.
Talks have now resumed, with fresh leaders on both sides. Greece and Turkey, which stand behind the Cypriot groups, may be disposed to see a settlement, if only to take the problem off their own plates. Greece is struggling mightily with its debt, seeking to maintain a government that meets the needs of its creditors and its benefactors.
In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party did not achieve a parliamentary majority in the June elections and has scheduled a new round for Nov. 1. The country is also challenged by problems related to the civil war in neighboring Syria.
This could be the moment for Greece and Turkey to push hard on the Cypriots to resolve this 41-year-old problem. A deal would ease relations between them within NATO and improve the situation of the Cypriots.