NEWS

Simitis: UN to press on Cyprus

The international community is likely to press harder for a solution to the Cyprus problem as the Feb. 28 deadline set by the United Nations approaches, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday, stressing that the Greek Cypriots and Greeks should work hard toward a solution. Simitis and Foreign Minister George Papandreou also met with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s envoy for Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, yesterday, who briefed the visiting Russian foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, on the talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. «In a Cabinet meeting (on Thursday) I expressed the belief that the UN wants a solution by Feb. 28 and the moment will come when they will want an end to the negotiations. It is very likely that they will then present their latest thoughts with regard to the secretary-general’s plan and will tell the two sides to state their final positions,» Simitis told a news conference with Danish Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, who was visiting Athens. Simitis stressed that Greeks and Greek Cypriots must work toward a solution. «Only if we explain clearly our position, if we are persuasive, if we show that we want to solve problems will we have the support of the international community, and this is always necessary,» he added. In Davos, at the World Economic Forum, the leader of Turkey’s ruling party, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said: «If both sides want a solution, a solution will be found. If they do not, it will not be found.» Ivanov said it was «natural for difficulties to exist» and that all sides should work «so that valuable time is not lost.» In Nicosia, Denktash said he and Clerides had debated new terms to replace «component state» and «common state» in Annan’s plan.