Merkel in Cyprus on 'historic' visit

11th January 2011, Comments 5 comments

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Cyprus on Tuesday for a landmark visit to help boost faltering UN-backed efforts to reunify the Mediterranean island after decades of division.

Both the Cypriot government and media have described the visit as "historically important" and "politically significant".

Pro-government communist daily Haravghi splashed "Willkommen" (welcome in German) across its front page, while the right-wing Simerini called it a short but important visit.

Apart from the Cyprus problem, the German chancellor would be keen to talk about closer NATO-EU cooperation which the island's division has hampered, according to the reports.

Merkel is on a five-hour "working visit" to Nicosia, the world's last divided capital following the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall, in the first ever by a German head of government.

She will hold talks with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias before they have lunch together, and then Merkel will come face-to-face with the island's division when travels to the green line.

Once in the UN-patrolled buffer zone she will spend some time at the Goethe Institute, hold a meeting with UN chief of mission Lisa Buttenheim before seeing main right-wing Disy opposition leader Nicos Anastasiades.

Her trip comes a day before Christofias, the Greek Cypriot leader, and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Dervis Eroglu are to resume peace talks on Wednesday after a long break.

"Naturally, Germany is in favour of the reunification of Cyprus. It is the first visit of a German chancellor, which carries great weight and is of huge importance," Christofias told reporters last week.

He said Merkel's visit was on a par with the historic visits of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Pope Benedict XVI who arrived in Cyprus to much fanfare last year.

"Such visits are of great significance as they give important support in efforts to reach a settlement based on a bizonal, bicommunal, federal solution."

Christofias said Merkel would be warmly welcomed with "feelings of gratitude" towards a "major player in world affairs."

The latest peace process was launched amid renewed international optimism in September 2008. But with no signs of tangible progress, UN chief Ban Ki-moon has stepped in to try to add impetus.

The trio are expected to meet again in Geneva, Switzerland on January 26 after a review last November in New York of the sluggish peace process.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and seized its northern third in response to an Athens-engineered coup in Nicosia to unite the island with Greece.

© 2011 AFP

5 Comments To This Article

  • Haluk posted:

    on 19th January 2011, 06:01:36 - Reply

    But the question is: Is it in Turkey's interest to be a part of EU. I believe it is in Turkey's interest. I believe it is in Germany's interest as well, but apparently not in Angela Merkel's short-sighted election politics. May be she should go back to teaching physics.
  • jakeinla posted:

    on 14th January 2011, 23:05:35 - Reply

    Turkish accession to the EU is against Germany's interests. If not Cyprus, Germany would use other collateral pions to stop Turkey from joining EU. As for Turks are concerned, Cyprus problem was resolved in 1974. It's time Turkey looks for 'real' friends in the Turkic world, China, India, Brazil - or wherever it can find them - and stop pretending that the West was every on it's side. Turkey is a competitor to the west both economically and politically.
  • c posted:

    on 14th January 2011, 07:48:50 - Reply

    (Cyprus can only be a member of any organization if ONLY the guarantour powers are members of that org.)

    so LH can the Republic of Cyprus join the NATO without Turkey's veto? Guess not.

    Wake up and smell the roses. Turkey has invaded a country member of the UN in a so called peace operation, in order to save the Turkish Cypriots from a coup d'etat. Truth is TCs withdrew in enclaves in 1963-4 so they were not in the picture anyway. The partition was a planned operation, 40k military personnel are on the island, just get them off and go home. The church politics? off topic sorry... Merkel is German she is not supposed to have charisma but being sachlich
  • Haluk posted:

    on 12th January 2011, 17:17:36 - Reply

    We already knew that Ms. Merkel did not have the personal charisma to be a mediator. Her comments in Cyprus revealed that die Frau also does not have the poltical wisdom not to take sides. Perhaps she went to Cyprus to reduce any possiblity of a political solution so that Germany can continue to use them as an impediment against Turkey's EU accession.

    What a shame. Next time, keep her in Berlin.
  • Levent Huseyin posted:

    on 11th January 2011, 12:37:35 - Reply

    While Turkey pushes for a solution to get rid of this annoying situation by forming a bicommunal and bizonal federation as a guaranteur power, Greek Cypriot side is playing for time trying to use its Illegal membership of EU (Cyprus can only be a member of any organization if ONLY the guarantour powers are members of that org.)with a stolen republic from Turkish Cypriots which is not functioning for the last 48 years to be exact according to the constitution of ROC. Even EU is regretful today allowing ROC as a Greek occupied regime after the rejection of ANNAN PLAN. Papadopulos was referred as a "Liar" as polite as possible by EU commissioner Verheugen at that time when he rejected the plan on TV in crocodile tears. Verheugen was not even allowed to have an interview by so-called ROC government on PIK to inform people about the benefits of a solution before the referendum. Cyprus is a divided pawn island which is used by some EU countries as an excuse against Turkey to block her accession for completely other reasons, not because of Greek Cypriot policy and with this economical era and realpolitik, CHURCH politics of Greek Cypriots are out of date. To be short, it is time to wake up and smell the coffee! TURKISH CYPRIOT STRUGGLE GOES ON.