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By 28 February, the people of Cyprus on both sides of the Green Line, as well as those in the two mainlands of Greece and Turkey are going to decide whether to proceed with the peace plan designed by the United Nations or not. If either side rejects it, then very probably Cyprus will remain a divided island for the foreseeable future and the Greek part of the island will enter the EU as a full member, while the Turkish Cypriots will remain outside it. There is no doubt that an historical opportunity will have been missed, but neither side has an easy choice to make. Some aspects of the Turkish Cypriot situation which even at this late hour ought to be born in mind by everyone.The reality of the island is that there are two peoples on it, not one. From the start, the core issue is about the rights and freedom of the Turkish Cypriots, not the influence of Turkey or Greece. The formula of a new state suggested by Lord Hannay and which would be formed by two "constituent" states could go some way to meeting the concerns of the Turkish Cypriots. Only a settlement based on equality can provide for a genuine solution to the ills of the island. Such a settlement will not be easy to reach, as the fitful progress of this year’s talks has shown. But Greek Cypriot accession will only make it more difficult, if not impossible. The direct talks between the leaders must continue, because they open the way to a solution by removing the imbalance between the sides. And the EU and the international community must also do everything in their power to encourage the removal of this asymmetry.

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