History is not a frequent visitor to Lefkosa, a town sitting astride the line that has divided the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus into Greek and Turkish zones since 1974, when Turkey invaded after an Athens-supported Greek nationalist coup. But last week, in the lead-up to today's elections, there was a distinct whiff of revolution in the air. Beneath the town's vast Venetian ramparts, Inonu Square has disappeared under a sea of green-and-white flags. A sound system blares out 'Yes to a solution for Cyprus. Yes to the European Union'. 'Nothing can prevent peace on Cyprus,' shout 5,000 Turkish Cypriots. A smaller crowd 200 metres away has gathered under the ruling National Unity Party's colours. 'We will never surrender,' they shout. But Cyprus' 200,000 Turks face a critical dilemma at the polls. Many inhabitants of a self-proclaimed republic recognised only by Turkey are aware that a solution to its 30-year dispute must be found by May if they are to have any hope of joining Europe next to, and on the same terms as, their Greek neighbours. 'Turkish Cypriots have lived isolated from the world for 30 years,' said main opposition leader Mehmet Ali Talat. 'If no progress is made ... this side of the island will become a prison. At the moment, 10,000 Turks cross into Greek Cyprus every day to work. After May, they will require visas.' Failure to talk with the Greek side could also deal a death blow to Turkey's hopes of being given a date for EU accession next year. With 30,000 soldiers stationed on the island since 1974, they will be considered an occupation force on European Union territory. Like other opposition politicians, Mr Talat sells the polls as a referendum on Europe, which many Turkish Cypriots find more baffling than enlightening. Many have still not decided who they will vote for. 'Obviously, we want to be in Europe,' said a hotelier who believes the isolation is killing the tourism industry. 'But I remember what it was like when we lived ... with the Greeks. 'I remember being searched every time we wanted to leave our town. I remember being one of only five Turkish kids at school and being ignored by the Greeks. 'If we couldn't live peacefully then, how is it going to work now?' Fined US$250,000 and jailed for his articles, Sener Levent, the editor of the left-wing daily Afrika, is no friend of the Turkish Cypriot government. But he thinks Cypriots could be in for a shock if the opposition wins. 'Turkey sets policy on this island, not the Turkish Cypriots', he said. 'Talat undoubtedly wants change, but the question is, can he persuade Turkey to follow his line. If not, then this talk of European accession is mere callousness, playing on the hopes of the Turkish Cypriot community.' Mr Levent jokingly points out that Turkish Cyprus' largest mental health institute has offered a month of free consultations after the elections. 'A lot of people are going to need that help,' he said.