Cyprus is slowly coming back to Turkeys agenda. No, I am not talking about the pointless New York Summit held Thursday, Nov. 18, at the United Nations headquarters. However, as northern Cyprus President Dervis Eroglu took office last April, so many predictions were made that peace talks would come to a happy end soon with a solution. Nobody took this good news seriously, primarily Cypriots. As anticipated, in fact, expectations became null-and-void. The 36 or maybe 50 year-old Cypriot knot is still there. Eroglu said it was a beneficial meeting and talks will be accelerated, adding that the secretary general will tell in January if U.N.s good offices mission will continue or not. In other words, even the U.N. might withdraw from talks. As a matter of fact, this seemingly endless story, ended long time ago, but formal talks still continue for the sake of talking. From now on solution needs to be found not in the island but through an international conference similar to the Dayton Conference that ended the Bosnian war. The island as the place to find a lasting solution has started to lose the initiative after mid-2004. With a yes vote in the north and no vote in the south to the Annan Plan and a week later the south being accepted to the European Union as the sole representative of the whole island, previous fragile symmetry dramatically changed. Lets have a look at negotiating parties and the mediator today. I think, the U.N. has its weakest administration since 1945 and is run by a team under full control of P-5, i.e. the permanent members of the Security Council with veto powers. Forget about finding a solution to an international issue, even it is impossible for the organization to take the initiative. The body is acting more than ever like a sheer secretariat. Next to it, we see the weakest-ever president in the northern Cyprus and a president of the Republic of Cyprus, or RC, who is scared to make any decision and is an hostage of the coalition government. That, such structural congestion in settlement talks entirely reflects on Turkeys accession talks with the EU. Concordantly, the equation that the government keeps repeating for sometime seems critical: State Minister and chief EU negotiator Egemen Bagis during an official visit to Dublin told the Irish Times that Cyprus cannot be given up for the EU accession but the EU membership cannot be abandoned for Cyprus either. We heard similar statements in the past, but only the former condition was mentioned. This new paradigm is now behind secret talks that have been launched some weeks ago Ankara-Brussels-Lefkosa (Nicosia) line and those we heard of at the beginning of this week. 'Port of Famagusta stamp The EU term president Belgium made a suggestion to have an answer by the European Council in mid-December: Opening a port in Istanbul to RC vessels; access of RC airplanes to Turkish air corridor; extension of the Green Line Regulation to include Turkish goods in the exports of the Northern Cyprus to RC; RC lifting of the veto on five negotiation chapters of Turkey in the EU accession talks. Ankara has found the offer inadequate for now, but the case is not closed yet. Let us recall, before the opposition in Turkey begins to exploit the ports issue. Turkish ports were officially opened until 1987 and remained de facto opened until 1998. Story is as follows: As Magosa (Famagusta) was taken over in 1974, the stamp reading Port of Famagusta belonging to RC was taken and used by Turcocypriots for years for export paperwork with no problem. With northern Cyprus declaration of independence, Foreign Minister at the time Tahsin Ertugruloglu insisted on a new stamp for a new state, so convinced then President Rauf Denktas. From there on, everything has changed. During a potatoes export to U.K. the northern Cyprus stamp was used that caused objections of Greco-cypriots, the product was excluded from preferential tariff regime and treated like a third country product which required a health certificate therefore failing to compete in markets. For the very same reason, export of textile products was no longer profitable in economic terms. Turkey retaliated and closed ports to RC ships officially in 1987 and totally in 1998. Through the recent initiative facilitated by Belgium, it seems that Turkish accession talks are decoupled from settlement talks in the island, the priority shifting to the former. And this is the right thing to do. Lets hope the progress in EU negotiations will be reverberated on settlement talks in the island and facilitate a lasting solution. Hurriyet Dail News, Turkey