NEWS

Denktash: Cyprus road may close

Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said yesterday that unless UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan makes radical changes to his plan for a solution to the Cyprus problem, «the road will close.» UN officials have set a Feb. 28 deadline for agreement on the deal and have said they are not open to changing the plan radically. Speaking to Turkish Cypriots who have settled in areas belonging to Greek Cypriots before Turkey’s invasion in 1974, Denktash attacked Annan’s proposal, which includes two component states in one common state and the return of some refugees to their homes. «The road will open when the greatest part of our proposals are accepted,» Denktash said. Otherwise, «the road will close and we will not give up our rights,» he added. He also set out some of his objections. These include rejection of a supreme court including foreign judges (saying that it was insulting to give foreigners such powers). He also wants a smaller number of Greek-Cypriot refugees to return, over a longer transition period. Denktash also rejects the current map with the projected handover of occupied territory, demands recognition of his breakaway state and wants it to be made clear that the common state will not be a continuation of the Republic of Cyprus. At a news conference in Athens, Foreign Minister George Papandreou appealed to Greeks and Turks to allow Cyprus to find its way. «We can solve the Cyprus issue, we are very close,» he said. «Greece and Turkey have made mistakes,» he added. «Let us leave Cyprus to be free. We must be the pillars, not guardians.» Meanwhile, UN peacekeeping forces in Nicosia sealed off all roads leading to the site of the reunification talks between Denktash and President Glafcos Clerides yesterday after a suspicious white powder was found in a letter from abroad. It was addressed to Annan’s special envoy, Alvaro de Soto, who is mediating in the talks. After tests, the powder was «not deemed dangerous,» UN spokesman Brian Kelly said. He did not say what the powder was nor the country from which it had been sent.