Cyprus talks 'impossible' with Eroglu: defeated incumbent
Constructive talks on ending the 36-year division of Cyprus are "impossible" following hardliner Dervis Eroglu's election as Turkish Cypriot leader, his defeated predecessor said in comments published on Monday.
"Turkey wants the negotiations to be carried out constructively, but it is impossible with Mr Eroglu. Everybody knows it," outgoing Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat said an interview published by Spanish newspaper ABC.
"Of course they will hold meetings. But what will they do? Have a coffee or negotiate? Since Mr Eroglu has no vision of the solution, how will he work to find one?" added Talat, who has been a champion of the UN-sponsored reunification talks since their relaunch in September 2008.
With all the votes counted in Sunday's presidential election, right-wing National Unity Party (UBP) chief Eroglu, 72, who has long argued for a two-state solution to the Cyprus problem, won 50.4 percent against 42.8 percent for Talat.
"We will search for a way to reach consensus" in the talks with the Greek Cypriots, Eroglu told supporters after the results were announced.
He insisted that he had no intention of walking away from the negotiations despite his reputation as a hardliner.
Talat, who won the last Turkish Cypriot presidential election in 2005 on a pro-reunification platform, held 19 months of talks with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias before the negotiations were suspended for the election campaign.
Last month, Christofias and Talat announced important progress in the talks and vowed to reach a comprehensive settlement in 2010 in a move that was widely seen as a bid to boost the latter's election prospects.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to a Greek Cypriot coup seeking union with Greece.
Turkish Cypriot leaders declared their breakaway state in 1983 but it is recognised only by Ankara.
© 2010 AFP