Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, whose allies were routed in the vote, said the peace talks would not be affected.
Their fate holds the key to Turkey’s aspirations to join the European Union. The Greek Cypriots who represent the island in the EU say they will block Turkey’s admission as long as Cyprus remains divided.
“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,” Erdogan said in a weekly speech to members of his AK Party.
Talat told reporters after talks with President Demetris Christofias, the Greek Cypriot leader: “I expect the change of government to have a minimal impact on negotiations as I, as president, direct the talks.”
The right-wing National Unity Party (UBP) won 44.06 percent of Sunday’s Turkish Cypriot vote, giving it an outright majority in the 50-seat parliament.
The vote was a stinging defeat for the ruling Republican Turkish Party aligned with Talat, who started peace talks with 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.
Cyprus’s ethnic Greek and Turkish communities have lived estranged since a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. Talat leads breakaway northern Cyprus, which is recognised only by Ankara. His own tenure as president is not up until April 2010, but he negotiates on a mandate from parliament.
UBP says it does not seek to scupper negotiations, but 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.
Parts of Turkey’s EU entry talks are suspended because of the Cyprus conflict, and the idea of granting it full membership is strongly opposed by France and Germany.
Financial Mirror, April 22, 2009 – By Simon Bahceli (Reuters)