NICOSIA, Cyprus -- Turkish and Greek Cypriots reacted cautiously on Wednesday (November 11th) to Britain's offer to hand over half of its sovereign territory in Cyprus, as an incentive to reunify the long-divided island. The UN office in Nicosia says London is ready to give up around 117sq km based on two conditions -- leaders of the Turkish and Greek communities devise a plan to reunify the island through negotiations, and then secure the support of the majority of people living in the north and in the south with formal ratification by both sides. "We have not discussed this among ourselves. Hence it is not possible to make an extensive assessment," Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat said. Cypriot Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou said that "what Britain can do if it wants to effectively help this process is to exert influence and encourage Turkey to be more accommodating."
Separately Wednesday, Kyprianou said that blocking Turkey's EU bid at next month's summit of EU leaders would not be in the interest of Cyprus. "Naturally, this does not mean it will happen unconditionally and carte blanche. This is the fine line we are aiming to reach in December," Kyprianou said during a daylong visit to Athens. (Reuters, AP, AFP - 11/11/09)