PMs discuss Cyprus

Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, met yesterday on the fringes of a Balkan summit in Belgrade and agreed to continue efforts to solve the Cyprus issue, although they appeared to make no breakthrough. They also agreed that the United Nations should play a primary role in postwar Iraq and that the country’s territorial integrity must be safeguarded. «On Cyprus, we were both of the opinion that a solution is necessary, that the political problem that was not solved through negotiations must be solved,» Simitis said after a meeting that lasted more than 90 minutes. «Greece is of the firm opinion that a solution is only possible within the framework of the United Nations.» Greece and the Greek Cypriots have rejected Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash’s attempt to make a deal with the Greek Cypriots outside the context of the UN negotiations. Denktash yesterday complained that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s special envoy for Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, had «tried to cast blame for his own failure» on Denktash. The UN report, made public on Monday, blamed Denktash for the failure of the UN mediated talks. «My fault was to complain to Annan about de Soto. It is a report written with anger because we did not do what they wanted. It was an intrigue to shape up our status as they wanted. They were very angry since we were not deceived by this intrigue,» Denktash said. Erdogan said he and Simitis had «discussed the very important steps that we have to take to strengthen our friendly bilateral relations.» «Regarding Cyprus, both governments must make further efforts,» he said. «Both governments must approach the future in a spirit of friendship and unity. We said that we are in favor of a continuation of the negotiations as long as the Annan plan will benefit the interests and the needs of both communities on the island.» Turkey is not happy with the plan as it is. Simitis and Erdogan were accompanied by foreign ministers George Papandreou and Abdullah Gul. The leaders of Serbia and Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Croatia, Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania and Turkey signed a declaration pledging to unite efforts to improve economic cooperation, fight terrorism and organized crime. They also called for the UN to play a leading role in Iraq.