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ALEKOS MARKIDES

What kind of complications could result from Denktash resorting to a referendum on the Annan proposal, in order to avoid an agreement that would force him to sign? This is a time-consuming process. Denktash’s purpose is obvious. He wants to gain time until February 28, the date by which the Security Council, the European Union and the UN Secretary General want a resolution for the Cyprus issue. Denktash knows that if he can postpone the issue until after February, the pressure will be off. This belief is also due to the repeated statements by the UN Secretariat and by other mediators, that if the problem is not resolved in February, the negotiation process will have to be frozen for a relatively long period. The changes that can be brought about by negotiations are necessarily restricted, according to Alvaro de Soto, who insists on maintaining the balance achieved in the Annan proposal. Do you accept the philosophy of the Annan plan? I am a member of the negotiating team and the National Council. I absolutely agree with the view that the secretary-general’s plan is acceptable as a basis for negotiation. I am among those who believe that there is a considerable margin for negotiation. It might not be possible to change the balance, but certain things which the Greek-Cypriot side sees as important could be achieved in exchange for things which the other side views as important but which are not vital to us. The reasons why I believe that this is feasible were set out in writing to the Cypriot president before the Copenhagen summit. I cannot reveal any other details, because that would undermine our negotiating position. If Denktash resigned, would that facilitate the process or make it more difficult? If this meant the timetable would not be met, how would it affect the process? For some years now I have been of the opinion, which I have communicated to the UN and to the representatives of the US and the UK, that as long as Denktash represents the Turkish Cypriots at the negotiating table, the Cyprus problem will never be resolved. I refer back to your first question, and to Denktash’s repeated, recent public statements. Denktash deserves a gold medal for persistent intransigence. His dream, dating from the 1950s, is for two states, two nations,and a preservation of the ethnic cleansing brought about by the invasion, an exchange of property, the continuing presence of the settlers (from Turkey) and no right of return for refugees. If all that is accepted, then he promises to be generous with regard to territory, but of course not to agree to what he calls the unacceptable proposal by the secretary-general, regarding this last issue. He will be «generous» but the territorial adjustments, as he says, should not affect the Turkish Cypriots and the settlers. So in effect, his «generosity» is restricted to the abandoned, enclosed area of Famagusta. My position is that the interests of the Cypriot people call for a solution as soon as possible, but this is not a question of six, 16 or 26 months. That will happen only when the Turkish political approach to the problem changes. In Cyprus, there has to be a person who wants, and is able, to negotiate the right solution to the Cyprus problem in a short period of time, with whoever is the new representative of the Turkish-Cypriot community.