NEWS

Poll shows Greek Cypriots wary, but Turks support UN proposals

NICOSIA (Reuters) – Most Greek Cypriots have strong reservations about a UN reunification plan whereas the majority of Turkish Cypriots support it, two opinion polls showed yesterday. The surveys, carried out in the north and south and published by the Greek-Cypriot Politis newspaper, showed that 59 percent of Greek Cypriots rejected the UN proposals for a settlement and 28 percent supported it. On the Turkish side, 52 percent were supportive of the draft and 40 percent were against it. The polls also highlighted that public understanding of the draft was a problem, with only one third of respondents on each side saying they felt sufficiently informed about the plan. The UN is pushing for acceptance of its proposal for a broad form of power sharing between Greeks and Turks and ratification of an outline deal before the EU decides at a summit on December 12 to include the island in its next expansion wave in 2004. Both sides have said they would consider the draft as a basis for negotiations. When, where and if negotiations will take place to tie up the loose ends before the Copenhagen summit is still unclear. Brussels has said it would admit Cyprus with or without a settlement, but mediators are hoping the prospect of EU membership for the entire island would spur a solution to a conflict which has dragged on for more than three decades and been a continuous source of tension between NATO allies Greece and Turkey. Proposed territorial adjustments was one issue both sides disapproved of, for different reasons. Sixty-two percent of Turkish Cypriots said they did not approve of the plans, which would see their territory diluted to 28.5 percent of Cyprus as opposed to the 36 percent they control today. Greek Cypriots, who are concerned about access to their properties in the area which would remain under Turkish-Cypriot control and do not want any restrictions on their ownership rights, were 63 percent against. The difference in views between the two sides was greatest in the case of proposed joint governance between leaders Glafcos Clerides and Rauf Denktash for three years after an agreement. Seventy-two percent of Greek Cypriots were against the proposal, but only 31 percent of Turkish Cypriots. The polls were commissioned by Politis and the Turkish-Cypriot Ortam daily to researchers Amer/Nielsen and Kadem.