Trying To Solve The Cyprus Problem

TRT World journalist Andrew Hopkins writes about the hopes and difficulties surrounding efforts to reunify the divided island of Cyprus

Photo by: TRT WORLD
Photo by: TRT WORLD

Updated Mar 9, 2016

It took a while to pin down Mustafa Akinci for an interview. We visited Cyprus early in February to file a series of reports.

We'd also been promised an interview by his office, but one problem after another cropped up and it never materialised.

However it did say we could have an interview in the near future, and for us to stay in touch. And that's why we returned two weeks later especially to interview the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyrus.

Sitting down to film with Mustafa Akinci.

There have been numerous attempts to solve the Cyprus dispute since the partition of the island in 1974 - and none have come to fruition.

The issue has come to be known as the Diplomat's Graveyard because of the large number of envoys whose careers have come unstuck trying reach a solution.

Mustafa Akinci was elected president last year after promising to negotiate for a peace deal. He already had an impressive record of promoting cross border co-operation.

He used to be mayor of the Turkish Cypriot-controlled part of the capital Lefkosa (known internationally as Nicosia) and helped launch a number of projects with Greek Cypriot politicians.

But alongside pressing economic factors, it's Akinci's relationship with the Greek Cypriot president that's also giving people renewed hope.

He and Nicos Anastasiades were both born in the Limassol area just over a year apart - and appear to get on well.

The presidential headquarters in Lefkosa.

They socialise together and at the end of last year they recorded a joint Christmas and New Year's message in each other's languages.

A video of out-takes from the recording has also surfaced on YouTube - where you can see how easy their relationship seems to be, even if their language skills are not the best.

It seems that on Cyprus there's a lot of good will nowadays to try to come up with a solution - its just the details of that solution that are proving to be difficult.

The partition took place more than 40 years ago - and the factors that caused it are no longer in existence. But mistrust and fear does remain on both sides.

Many are hoping a deal can be made this year and it's up to the two presidents to come up with a deal that they can sell to their respective communities.

Author: Andrew Hopkins