NEWS

UN: Cyprus can meet deadline

ISTANBUL (AP) – The UN envoy for Cyprus said yesterday that an agreement to reunite the island could be reached by the UN-set deadline of February 28. If that date passes, Turkish and Greek Cypriots should act to reunite the island before March 30 – a target date for holding referendums on whether to accept plans to reunify the island, Alvaro de Soto told reporters. Turkish- and Greek-Cypriot leaders failed to reach an agreement on a UN reunification plan before last month’s European Union summit in Copenhagen. At the summit, the EU invited Cyprus to join the bloc by 2004 and asked both sides on the island to find a solution by February 28. The EU will accept the Greek-Cypriot side if the island is not reunited by then. After a meeting with Turkish Foreign Ministry officials, de Soto said negotiations could be finalized by February 28 if the two sides «show the effort.» The UN would like «a united Cyprus instead of a divided one to join the EU,» he added. The EU is to sign an accession treaty with Cyprus and nine other countries on April 16.