NEWS

Annan writes to Simitis, Gul

In a bid to speed up efforts for a solution to the Cyprus problem, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday wrote to the prime ministers of Greece and Turkey urging them to quickly negotiate security arrangements for Cyprus that will apply when a deal is reached. Greece and Turkey are guarantor powers according to the agreement establishing the Republic of Cyprus in 1960. «We have answered ‘yes,’» said Greek government spokesman Christos Protopappas. Turkey’s Anatolia news agency said Ankara too would respond positively soon. In his letters to prime ministers Costas Simitis and Abdullah Gul, Annan emphasized «the urgency of their two countries pressing ahead without delay to finalize the security aspects of his revised December 10 proposal,» UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters. Annan’s plan for a reunited Cyprus was unveiled in November and a revision was made public on Dec. 10. President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash have a Feb. 28 deadline to reach agreement. The self-declared «Parliament» of the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot state met in an extraordinary, closed-door session to discuss the negotiations. «There are issues on which we agree and those on which we disagree,» Denktash said after the debate. «I believe I have found the necessary support in parliament. The majority is with me,» he said, adding that he did not yet see the need to call a public referendum on Annan’s plan. Turkey’s ruling party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Turkish-Cypriot newspaper Kibris that «the issue of sovereignty, the partner state and the maintenance of 29 percent of territory» are non-negotiable. Annan’s envoy, Alvaro de Soto, is to visit New York next week to brief him on the talks on Cyprus.