NEWS

Cypriot sides confer

Prime Minister Costas Simitis met yesterday with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos to discuss the Cypriot leader’s meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in The Hague on Monday. Simitis and Papadopoulos did not say what policy Greek Cypriots will follow at the meeting. Denktash, after meetings with top Turkish officials in Ankara, said: «It is doubtful we can accept the plan. We need changes to accept it.» Today he will discuss the issue with members of the «parliament» of the breakaway state in northern Cyprus. Tomorrow Papadopoulos will hold talks with the Greek Cypriots’ National Council. Simitis called on Turkey to press Denktash to accept Annan’s plan for the island’s reunification. «I want to note that despite the constructive stand taken by the Greek-Cypriot side, Mr Denktash, even though he has said he will go to The Hague, has so far remained intransigent. He ignores the dynamic demonstrations which have been held by the Turkish-Cypriot community in support of the solution of the political problem of Cyprus and Cyprus’s accession to the European Union,» Simitis said. «He ignores the desire that exists on the island and in the international community for a solution to the problem,» he added. «Mr Denktash’s position not only leads to the total isolation of the Turkish-Cypriot side but also undermines Turkey’s progress toward EU accession,» Simitis said. «Ankara’s road to Europe passes through the eradication of the dividing lines on Cyprus. That is why I believe the Turkish government ought to contribute decisively to raising the deadlock.» Denktash received strong backing in Turkey yesterday. He met with President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Prime Minister Abdullah Gul, armed forces chief Hilmi Ozkok and Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis. «In its present form, the Annan plan is far from meeting the basic concerns and expectations of Turkish Cypriots,» they said after a four-hour meeting. «Turkey supports Denktash’s constructive efforts for peace.» On Wednesday, though, after meeting with Denktash, ruling party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan pressed for a solution, saying, «Both sides must make concessions for agreement to be reached.» Regarding Denktash, he said: «We do not agree completely on everything… But our basic aim is, naturally, the happiness and well-being of the people of northern Cyprus.»