NEWS

Three aims for Cyprus

NICOSIA (AP) – The new round of Cyprus peace talks that began Saturday has a triple objective that includes a possible trade-off between Turkey and the European Union, the Cypriot attorney general said. «The objective is to achieve a settlement of the Cyprus problem, the smooth accession of Cyprus to the European Union and the granting of a date by the EU to Turkey for the start of its entry negotiations,» said Attorney-General Alecos Markides after UN envoy to Cyprus Alvaro de Soto ended three hours of talks with President Glafcos Clerides to discuss his objections to a detailed UN plan for the reunification of the island. De Soto was due to discuss the plan with Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday. The UN wants Clerides and Denktash to accept the plan before next Thursday’s opening of the EU summit in Copenhagen, which is expected to formally invite Cyprus to join the EU and to give Turkey a starting date for its own accession talks. Markides said various foreign mediators from the USA, the EU and Britain have told the two Cypriot leaders and Turkey that acceptance of the UN plan will promote their aims at Copenhagen. His remark was bolstered by Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul, who said in Istanbul on Saturday: «A solution in Cyprus will be easier after the European Union gives Turkey the date it deserves at Copenhagen.» Turkey has objected to the time frame proposed by France and Germany, whose leaders have said the Copenhagen summit should offer Turkey a starting date of May 2005. Turkey, with US and British support, seeks an immediate start to accession negotiations. If Denktash and Clerides do agree on the UN plan, it would allow the agreement to be incorporated into the terms of Cyprus’s accession to the EU. However, Clerides and Denktash have indicated it is unlikely they will bridge the differences of nearly 30 years within a week. Denktash told reporters Saturday that he objected to the plan’s proposal to allow Greek Cypriots to return to Morphou and Famagusta, saying it would turn their inhabitants into refugees. Earlier this week, Clerides said of the plan: «There is not enough time to complete negotiations on this very complicated document.»