Gul sees Cyprus deal in a year

ANKARA (AFP) – A solution to the nearly three-decade division of Cyprus could be found before May 2004, when the free part of the island is due to join the EU, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said yesterday. «I am of the opinion that a solution can be found by 2004,» he told the private Turkish television NTV. Gul said Ankara was working to resolve the issue and hailed the Turkish-Cypriot leadership’s decision in April to open the «Green Line» dividing the island to let Greek Cypriots across for the first time since 1974. But he added, «These measures only have significance if they are reciprocal.» Cyprus is scheduled to join the European Union in 2004. EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen is to visit Turkish-occupied Cyprus on June 19 for talks with Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, the Turkish-Cypriot press agency TAP said. Denktash yesterday criticized moves to try to revive a plan to end the island’s division drawn up by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, arguing it would reduce the Turkish Cypriots to a «minority» community.