NEWS

Cyprus people power

The flood of people across Cyprus’s Green Line since the Turkish-Cypriot authorities eased restrictions disproves Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash’s claim that the island’s two communities cannot live together, President Tassos Papadopoulos said yesterday. Also, a poll conducted among Greek Cypriots by the Simerini newspaper found that 36 percent of those questioned said easing travel restrictions was a «positive move» and another 26.3 percent said it was «more or less positive» in moving toward a settlement of the Cyprus problem. «Denktash always said that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots cannot live together but should live separately beside each other,» Papadopoulos said. He argued that events had proved that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s proposal for Cyprus did not need a long interim period in bringing the people together. «The collapse of this logic supports our arguments that we do not need the long period of adjustment,» he told the Phileleftheros newspaper. In the 18 days since the easing of restrictions on April 23, 325,000 people had crossed the buffer zone, or nearly 238,000 Greek Cypriots and 88,000 Turkish Cypriots, the Athens News Agency reported yesterday. On Saturday, another checkpoint was opened in Nicosia, at Aghios Domitios, to facilitate vehicle traffic. The Cypriot government has proposed another four openings and is waiting for a response. Papadopoulos explained his next moves in the search for a settlement. He made clear the UN did not believe things were ready to resume talks. He also argued that Cyprus’s signing an accession treaty with the EU, which it will join next May, would strengthen his hand. «We have indications that many circles in the European Commission are not very happy with the principles of the (UN) plan that they believe constitute great diversions from the acquis communautaire. Our hope is that this will strengthen our bargaining power and these diversions will change during the negotiations,» Papadopoulos said. He will brief the EU on where he stands on the Annan plan and where the plan diverges from EU principles. «Then we will ask the UN to sound out the other side, which has been negative so far, to see if it is prepared to change position and start talks. While Denktash is there, the Cyprus problem cannot be solved. He follows the policy of obstruction that he has always followed,» he said.