Greece, Turkey to discuss Cyprus

Turkey yesterday appeared to agree to a proposal by Greece that the two countries, both of which are guarantor powers for Cyprus, should hold bilateral talks on the island’s security issues. Foreign Minister George Papandreou made the suggestion during a visit to Ankara on Jan. 31. His Turkish counterpart, Yasar Yakis, said he would discuss this with his government. Yesterday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman, Yusuf Buluc, said, «There is a need for the guarantor powers to come to an agreement on the basis of the responsibilities which they have from the agreement of 1960» which established Cyprus as an independent state. He appeared to indicate that Ankara would like such talks to begin soon. Papandreou’s proposal was that the talks ran parallel to the current negotiations being held between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. The UN has set a Feb. 28 deadline for the two to agree to Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s proposed solution to the Cyprus problem. The two have been meeting three times a week in an effort to reach agreement. Athens and Ankara are to discuss how many troops each will keep on the island after a deal is reached. The UN is keen for them to hold talks in order to put further pressure on Clerides and Denktash. Buluc said that it was possible that the UN might submit another revision to the Annan plan, if, he said, «new points of agreement arise from the negotiations.» Clerides did not rule this out yesterday, after talks on territory with Denktash. He said 2003 could bring about important developments. «The Turkish government’s leverage (on Denktash) is expected to come into play soon,» he said.