Others say it isn't the moment. I am a pro-solution person. I want a solution yesterday, said Andreas Christou, the mayor of Limassol, the islands second biggest city. But, he told reporters, It is not just a question of desire. I dont see the solution to be connected with the crisis. They are different things.
Unlike most Greek Cypriot politicians, Anastadiades can claim a track record in resolving the Cyprus problem. He backed the last international effort, a 2004 plan named for Kofi Annan, then the United Nations secretary-general, that would have created a federal state that would have allowed autonomy for the Turkish Cypriot portion of the island. Some 65 percent of Turkish Cypriots voted in favor, but 76 percent of Greek Cypriots voted no. After that outcome, the EU admitted the Greek Cypriot-dominated south as a member the following week, an action that gave Greek Cypriots a veto on integrating the Turkish north into the EU as well as on Turkeys bid for EU membership.
The vote was a major setback for Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkeys prime minister, whod endorsed the Annan plan and was hoping to win EU membership for Turkey. Nine years later, Turkey is still not an EU member, but its economy is thriving.
During the current crisis, Turkey has shown little patience for the problems of the Greek Cypriot south. When the south attempted to use future proceeds from natural gas sales as collateral to obtain loans from Russia, Turkey came down hard, condemning the ploy as a dangerous manifestation of the illusion of being the sole owner of the island. It warned that Turkish Cypriots are co-owners of the islands and will never become a minority in a Greek Cypriot state.
Greece charged that Turkey was behaving like a colonial power and said the two communities could find solutions for themselves. And the Greek Cypriot government here said the starting point for any talks should be the removal of Turkish troops from north Cyprus.
Turkish Cypriot leaders, while insisting on preserving their rights to Cypriot natural gas fields, have taken a low-key approach to inter-communal talks. They favor starting with confidence-building measures, among them: reciprocally opening ports to each others trade, allowing Cyprus airlines to fly through Turkish airspace, and opening Turkey and Cyprus to each others tourists.
As for exploiting offshore natural gas deposits, Turkish Cypriots point out that a pipeline to Turkey, which has a voracious need for fossil fuels and is the nearest big customer, would be far cheaper to build than one to Greece.
The big fear among Turkish Cypriots is a nationalist backlash from Greek Cypriots, blaming Germany or Europe for their woes.
The dream of Enosis, or union with Greece, is still in the hearts and mind of many on the Greek Cypriot side of Nicosia, and Greek Independence Day, March 25, is celebrated as a national holiday with a military parade.
Enosis has been behind many of Cyprus troubles. A drive for union by the then-military government in Athens led to a coup in Nicosia in 1974 and provoked the Turkish military invasion.
Two years ago, in what amounted to financial Enosis, the two biggest Greek Cypriot banks, with almost certain government knowledge, purchased billions of Greek government bonds that fell in value, causing the enormous losses that led to financial collapse.
Some Cypriots, particularly in the younger generation, think its time for a change.
People insist on celebrating Greek Independence Day because they love the idea of having a national identity, said Stephanie Lambrou, 27, who studied in France and Britain and works as a translator in Limassol. We have the language and the religion from Greece. But we are nothing like the Greeks. I would like to have a Cyprus identity.