NEWS

Nicosia and Athens blame Denktash

Athens and Nicosia yesterday focused on Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash as the greatest obstacle to a deal on Cyprus, while Athens continued to contemplate the difficulties that could be caused by the clash between Turkey’s president and the ruling party. Cyprus’s attorney general, Alekos Markides, attacked Denktash shortly before one positive development – the meeting of Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot experts who are investigating the possibility of preparing common laws for the day when the island is no longer divided. They agreed to meet twice a day from Jan. 7. «As long as Denktash heads the Turkish-Cypriot community there won’t be a settlement,» Markides told state radio. He said that Denktash’s insistence on international recognition for the breakaway state he leads in northern Cyprus is the main problem. The Greek Cypriots have said they are prepared to negotiate for a solution on the basis of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s proposal. The Turkish-Cypriots have not accepted the plan, causing a UN-mediated effort to fail on December 12 before the EU leaders in Copenhagen invited Cyprus to join the union in 2004. «He had every opportunity to get a very beneficial settlement for his side (at Copenhagen), but he torpedoed it all because he wants recognition,» Markides said of Denktash. Denktash on Thursday denied that he had blocked a solution in Copenhagen. He attacked the UN Security Council for recognizing the Cypriot government in 1964 as the sole government on the island. The Greek government spokesman responded yesterday. «Rauf Denktash continues with his intransigence and is trying to undermine the process again. He is going down a dangerous path with this attitude. His intransigence is at odds with the interests of the Turkish-Cypriot people and the best thing that the Turkish side could do would be to enter negotiations,» spokesman Christos Protopappas said. Markides, who was at the meeting of legal experts, said later, «It appears the Turkish-Cypriot committee is willing to cooperate at these meetings.»