NEWS

Cypriots against hardliners?

With the start of the new year, Cyprus’s president and a Turkish-Cypriot opposition leader called on each other’s side to help end their islands’ division in statements that sidelined veteran Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. Meanwhile, the UN’s special envoy for Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, informed the government that he will delay his return by a week – until Jan. 13, when he is to resume negotiations between President Glafcos Clerides and Denktash in a bid to reach agreement on the basis of a UN proposal by Feb. 28. In a statement, Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer said, «We believe that the plan prepared by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is negotiable and we support the continuation of settlement efforts in an intensified manner and in accordance with the calendar envisioned in the plan.» But he reiterated Denktash’s call for «sovereign equality» that has stymied reunification efforts. Denktash, who says he will negotiate for a solution, again voiced the view that Annan’s proposal «leads to the Turkish-Cypriot people abandoning many of the rights they currently enjoy.» Opposition leaders, who on Tuesday repeated their call for Denktash’s resignation, are to meet with him today. Republican Turkish Party leader Mehmet Ali Talat also urged Greek-Cypriot parties to «organize demonstrations against the Church and other reactionaries and in favor of signing the Annan plan» if they wanted to show they were sincere in calling for a solution. In his New Year’s message, Clerides addressed the Turkish Cypriots, saying, «I assure them that we are just as interested in their peaceful and creative future, their security, their progress and welfare in a united Cyprus in the EU,» he said. In a hint that they should continue demonstrating against Denktash, he added, «We expect their contribution.»