In 1958, when the first barbed-wire barricades were rolled out by the British colonial government across Ledra Street in the capital of Cyprus, it seemed inevitable that the seeds of division would yield a bitter harvest of intercommunal conflicts, regional tensions, and, finally, the partition of the whole island.
Where minarets and churches once jostled happily together under the high, bright sun by day and crescent moon by night, garrisoned troops took up positions in machine-gun outposts and artillery turrets, effectively dividing the inhabitants of Nicosia—Turkish and Greek Cypriot—into two distinct ethnic groups.
Eventually, the age-old Greco-Turkish enmity found a new front line, as the Hellenic and Ottoman civilizations collided once again along the U.N.-patrolled Green Line dividing northern and southern Cyprus.
This past August, the leaders of the two ethnic communities, Mehmet Ali Talat and Tassos Papadopoulos, resumed discussions about the future of the island. Within the circles of the United Nations and the European Union, U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns added his voice to the growing consensus of diplomats and heads of state calling for a swift and final resolution of the Cyprus problem.
With a visit to Cyprus planned in the near future, Mr. Burns is expected to express his government’s support for the most recent unification model—a bi-zonal,...