Second reunification referendum in Cyprus on horizon

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A second simultaneous referendum on Cypriot reunification could take place in early 2016 following negotiations between the two entities' presidents, a Turkish government source said July 2.

"We are at the threshold of an important development," said the source, who asked not to be named. "The two leaders have started to get into substantial issues. They are proceeding well and we hope the process will accelerate in the fall. There might be a new referendum in the early months of 2016, depending on the developments."

A first referendum for reunification that was held on April 24, 2004, on both sides of the island based on a plan by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was approved by the Turks but rejected by the Greeks. On May 1, 2004, Greek Cyprus was accepted as a member of the European Union, purportedly representing the Turkish side as well, despite protests from Turkish Cyprus and Turkey. The issue remains one of the biggest obstacles between the EU and Turkey, meaning membership negotiations have largely stalled since then.

The source also said that if the Greek Cypriot side ceased claiming the island to be a "Hellenic Island" and focus on a "federation based on the equality of two constituent states," a solution could be reached very quickly. 

But even if not, "the current status cannot continue for another 50 years," the source said. "That is the mood in the U.N. as well. Then the parties could sit and talk on a peaceful separation for two independent states."

But Ankara has entertained optimism for the time being, believing that a solution could be near. "Such a development could improve Turkey's relations with Greece and the EU as well," the source said. "An obstacle and a pretext blocking Turkey's relations with...

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