NEWS

TASSOS PAPADOPOULOS

If you do not accept the philosophy of the Annan plan and the internal equilibrium mentioned by (UN Cyprus envoy) Alvaro de Soto, then how will you negotiate it, not for the purpose of burying it, but in order to arrive at a solution, as you have stated? I have never expressed any opposition to the Annan plan, which, by the way, is a sui generis model. My position is in line with that of the Cyprus National Council, that is, that the plan is accepted as a basis of negotiations. The overwhelming majority of Cypriot political parties believe that the plan as it is cannot comprise a solution to the problem. Certain provisions in it require clarification, amendment and improvement if they are to be the basis of a functional, and, therefore, viable solution. I myself, as well as the forces supporting my candidacy, are committed to a solution as soon as possible. If the Cyprus problem is still unresolved today, that is due to the intransigency of the Turkish side. Being committed to a solution means being ready to negotiate in good faith, so that the Annan plan can provide a solution for the benefit of all the people in Cyprus, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. If Denktash resigned, would this facilitate the process or make it more difficult? And how would a postponement of the timetable, if this were to occur, affect efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem? It is up to the Turkish Cypriots to decide who is to represent them. It is my conviction that Denktash has been the major obstacle to a solution to the Cyprus issue. After all, that is what tens of thousands of our Turkish-Cypriot compatriots were shouting in their unprecedented rally in the occupied area. The timetable, as Prime Minister Costas Simitis has rightly observed, has already been undermined because of Denktash’s refusal to negotiate. However, the effort to find a solution cannot and should not end with February 28. With or without Denktash, we have a duty to persist with the negotiations, in keeping with our principles and in all good faith. In certain circles in Athens there is the impression that your election would be to the detriment of the current effort to resolve the Cyprus problem. What can your election contribute to the efforts to find a solution? If there is such an impression, I believe it is unjust and mistaken. I think all Greek-Cypriot politicians, in all political parties, want a solution. The policy of a peaceful solution through negotiations is neither recent nor was it thought up by the outgoing president. It has been a conscious choice on the part of the Greek Cypriots and Greeks ever since the problem began. Therefore, demonizing someone and trying to divide the people on the basis of false dilemmas is only harmful to our cause. I do not claim to be able to work miracles, nor can I do anything as long as the Turkish stance remains unchanged. However, I am committed to continuing the effort to find a solution, with greater persistence and method, through a closer functioning of the National Council and in close cooperation with the government and other politicians in Greece. I am committed to negotiating firmly and painstakingly to find a viable solution. The elections, and the democratic process in general, are not an obstacle to the Cyprus issue. Let me also say that among the forces supporting my candidacy are those who have always declared themselves in favor of a rapprochement between the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots.