Papandreou reshuffles Greek cabinet, stays fiscal course

ANKARA warned yesterday it would not support any moves by the hardline National Unity Party (UBP), which swept to victory in ‘parliamentary’ elections on Sunday, to weaken the hand of Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

"It is necessary to express our desire that the poll outcome supports the process already in place. We will not support any action that weakens the hand of (Talat), who started these negotiations," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyp Erdogan said in a televised weekly speech to members of his AK Party yesterday..

"It would be very wrong for the new government to end the negotiations or to continue the negotiations on a basis different than the one that has been followed so far," Erdogan said. "The process must continue exactly as before.

The UBP, led by Dervis Eroglu a former Turkish Cypriot ‘prime minister’ won 44.06 per cent of Sunday's vote, giving it an outright majority in the 50-seat parliament. The ruling Republican Turkish Party (CTP) aligned with Talat, which bore the brunt of public discontent over a faltering economy and continued international isolation of the breakaway territory, took 29.25 per cent of the vote.

The vote was a stinging defeat for the CTP and for Talat, who started peace talks with President Demetris Christofias last year.

The UBP advocates a two-state settlement on Cyprus, at odds with the federal model now being discussed by Talat and Christofias, and the party's control of parliament may give Talat less room for manoeuvre in talks.

In an earlier interview with Turkey's Zaman newspaper, Eroglu was quoted as saying: "Everything will be easier if it is universally accepted that we (Turkish Cypriots) are a nation and that we have a state."

Talat said yesterday the peace talks would not be affected while the UBP said it did not seek to scupper negotiations. However it has said it wants more direct involvement in the process.

A source in the UBP said: "We are most definitely going to send a representative to the talks with Talat, and this is something that Talat has accepted." Diplomats say the Talat-Christofias talks offer a glimmer of hope that the conflict can be resolved. They are both viewed as moderates and are ideologically rooted in the left.

Greek Cypriots want a deal to be an evolution of the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus they run, rather than the union of two states.

By Simon Bahceli, Cyprus Mail, April 22, 2009|||Erdogan says vote must not weaken Talats hand
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