Cyprus. The interrupted negotiations for a reunion of the
island resumed in late summer. According to
Countryaah reports, the reason was that Dimitris
Christofias, leader of the Communist Workers Progress Party
(AKEL), after a re-election campaign aimed at reunification
won the presidential election in February. In the first
round, February 17, no candidate got more than 50 percent of
the vote, so Christofias and Ioannis Kasoulides, leader of
the Democratic Assembly (DISY), went on to a second round on
February 24, where Christofias, with the support of the two
government parties, took 53, 4 percent.
During the spring and summer, Christofias held several
meetings with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. A
dozen working groups with representatives of both parties
began to prepare negotiations on issues such as energy
cooperation, crime prevention, environmental protection and
integration of the island's two economic systems. On April
3, the Lokmaci border crossing was opened in Nicosia, which
has been closed by a wall since 1974. In July, Christofias
and Talat agreed on the goal of the impending negotiations:
a federal state, under a president, with a nationality and
with guaranteed rights for the Turkish Cypriot minority..
Negotiations began in early September and during the fall,
the two leaders - who, incidentally, have been friends for
many years - met almost weekly. The cracking issues were,
among other things, the future of the 35,000 Turkish
soldiers on the island,
In June, EU foreign ministers agreed on measures to
facilitate reunification, including raising tariffs on
agricultural products from Northern Cyprus and easing
restrictions on cross-border business activity.
Severe drought for four consecutive winters introduced
water rationing in March. In July, Cyprus also began
importing water from Greece via tankers from Athens. The
cost of the water was estimated at EUR 38 million for the
rest of the year.
On 1 January, Euro replaced the Cypriot pound as the
country's currency. The pound was exchanged at a fixed rate
of about £ 0.59 per euro.