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Turkey: Cyprus Issue Moving to Forefront

Tens of thousands of Turkish Cypriots are preparing a second round of protests against Turkey in early March. There is a growing mood of bitterness among Turkish Cypriots over the way nationalist electioneering in Cyprus and Turkey, along with Ankara's fading enthusiasm for European Union accession, is eroding hopes for a lasting settlement on the divided Mediterranean island.

The first since Turkish troops invaded Cyprus in 1974 to counter a coup by Greek Cypriot radicals backed by a junta in Athens, the anti-Ankara protests began January 28, when 40,000 Turkish Cypriots, a sixth of the population, gathered in the divided Cypriot capital of Nicosia.

The protests were sparked by austerity measures imposed by Turkey, which provides $700 million in aid every year to the Turkish Cypriot entity, unrecognized internationally and embargoed by the European Union.

But many are expecting a much larger crowd in March, as Cypriots worried about their jobs are joined by those angered by the Turkish government's heavy-handed reaction to the first protest.

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Nicolas Birch specializes in Turkey, Iran and the Middle East.

Turkey: Cyprus Issue Moving to Forefront

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