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The North Cyprus election's wide reverberations

Sunday's vote by Turkish Cypriots could elect hardline prime minister Dervis Eroglu.

Few see much prospect for that to change without a resolution to the Cyprus issue. The election of Eroglu, analysts say, undermines hopes for peace on the island, but also threatens the fate of Turkey’s 75 million people.

“Without a deal that means everybody loses,” said Hugh Pope, director of the International Crisis Group’s Turkey and Cyprus program. “Turkey loses its EU process. That’s bad for Turkey and it’s bad for Europe.”

Many saw a brief window for peace in February 2008, when Greek Cypriots voted to oust President Tassos Papadapoulos, who had led the campaign against the Annan plan, and elected in his stead the Communist Dimitris Christofias.

Christofias and Talat are both from left wing-parties, had a pre-existing friendship, and had campaigned on the idea of reunification. They immediately launched a new round of peace talks. But after 19 months of intensive peace talks between the two men, cynicism is growing on both sides of the island’s divide.

“What’s happened is that Talat has found himself isolated, supported by the internationals, but with Turkish Cypriots who are disillusioned,” said Kaymak. “We saw deadlines come and go, and in the end, we don’t have a blue print. What we have are some vague, non-binding commitments on the part of the two leaders.”

Talat and Christofias insist that progress has been made, but the lack of details has left many skeptical. And international efforts to inspire confidence in the process have largely fallen flat. When U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon visited the island in late January to lend his support to the talks, his stop degenerated into a diplomatic spat over protocol.

“No one is ever going to openly say I’m walking away from the table,” said Pope. “But if this opportunity is not seized now, we do say it may be the last chance.”