Love chips away at barriers in ethnically split Cyprus

Wed Feb 3, 2016 9:43am EST
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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...

Greek Cypriot Larkos Larkou, 43, and Turkish Cypriot Hatice Ardost, 34, married since 2014, pose for a photo after an interview with Reuters in the Kiti village, Cyprus January 29,2016. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou