Love chips away at barriers in ethnically split Cyprus
By Michele Kambas
KITI, Cyprus (Reuters) - They met though social media, inspired by their love of music. But musicians Larkos Larkou and Hatice Ardost are no ordinary couple, and until at least a decade ago their relationship would have been unheard of in a country riven by conflict and distrust.
"It’s not really a subject of discussion in our household," Larkou, 43, says somewhat awkwardly as he sits cradling a cup of tea by the kitchen counter at the home he shares in Cyprus with Ardost, 34, his wife.
"Whether Hatice is a Turkish Cypriot and I’m a Greek Cypriot might be a subject for others, but for us, this is completely natural."
Ardost nods vigorously. "Two human beings being together is not a miracle."
Their union is emblematic of a gradual thaw in relations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus, home to one of Europe’s most enduring conflicts.
The island has been split since a Turkish invasion in 1974 prompted by a Greek Cypriot coup. The two populations were kept almost entirely separate until rules for traveling across the dividing line were eased in 2003.
On-off peace talks over the years have repeatedly foundered over the property rights of thousands of internally displaced people, different interpretations of how close a new reunion will be, and the influence of Turkey over any reunified Cyprus.
With two moderates now at the helm of talks, diplomats are now hopeful that a deal is within reach to solve the Cyprus conundrum after years of failed initiatives. Continued...