NEWS

Headway on Cyprus needs Turkish shift

Greek-Cypriots should not undertake any initiative aimed at reunifying Cyprus as long as Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots do not change their position on the issue, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday after talks with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos. In their talks, which lasted three-and-a-half hours, the two also discussed the Turkish Cypriots’ easing of travel restrictions on the island a little over a month ago. «These actions are aimed at disorienting international public opinion, at easing the international community’s pressure for a solution to the Cyprus problem and are an effort to gain recognition of the (Turkish-Cypriot) pseudo-state as a state entity, with the intention of disconnecting the issue from the UN and, in the end, gradually making the problem not appear to be an international one,» Simitis said. «That is why the Republic of Cyprus and Greece remain dedicated to the UN procedure. We want a European solution in the context of the UN, in which the Republic of Cyprus is a member of the EU.» Papadopoulos commented, however, that many of Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash’s arguments that the two people on the island could not live together had been disproved by the traffic across the Green Line. The Cypriot president also met with his Greek counterpart, Costis Stephanopoulos, yesterday and will meet with opposition leader Costas Karamanlis today and address a meeting of ruling PASOK’s Central Committee and parliamentary group. Regarding the stalled reunification plan proposed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Simitis said: «The Turkish Cypriots did not accept the plan. If we start again without the basic fact having changed – the effort by Mr Denktash to have his pseudo-state recognized – then we will undermine the UN process. Negotiations must resume when we believe that there is the possibility of a positive outcome, instead of leading repeatedly to failure.» More than 500,000 people have taken advantage of the lifting of the travel ban on Cyprus on April 23, the Athens News Agency reported yesterday. It said 341,000 Greek Cypriots and 169,000 Turkish Cypriots had crossed the line.