New Cyprus Cabinet is appointed

Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos on Saturday named his 11-member Cabinet, bringing together representatives of the centrist and leftist parties that supported his election one day after his own inauguration. The new government will immediately have to decide what position the Greek Cypriots will take when Papadopoulos meets with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in The Hague on March 10. Annan has asked the two Cypriot leaders to say whether they agree with his plan to reunite the island or commit themselves to letting their people hold referenda on the plan, in effect, sidestepping their leaders. The National Council of Greek-Cypriot parties is to discuss the issue tomorrow. Denktash, meanwhile, made clear his disagreement with Annan’s plan. The Athens News Agency, in a report from Nicosia that did not use direct quotes, said that Denktash said in a Turkish radio interview on Saturday that in no country would a referendum be held on the instructions of someone else. He reportedly said the idea behind the referendum was to sideline him because he is not expected to sign Annan’s plan. If a deal is not reached in time for referenda to be held on March 30, only Greek Cypriots will join the EU when the island signs an accession treaty on April 16. Turkish Cypriots have held mass demonstrations calling on Denktash to reach a deal according to the Annan plan. Papadopoulos won a five-year mandate on February 16, becoming the island’s fifth president since it won independence from Britain in 1960. His Cabinet includes members of his own center-right DIKO party (three portfolios) as well as from the Communist AKEL party (four portfolios), the socialist KISOS (two portfolios) and the Greens, all of whom backed his election. An independent backed by the Greens was named agriculture minister. George Iacovou, who was foreign minister from 1983 to 1993 and is an independent (backed by AKEL) was named foreign minister again.

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