NEWS

Cem threatens Cyprus as UN envoy visits

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s special envoy Alvaro de Soto arrived on Cyprus yesterday in an effort to revive peace talks. But Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem expressed threats that Ankara might take definitive decisions if Cyprus joins the European Union. The Cyprus issue is not going well for Turkey, Cem said, claiming that Turkey’s interests were not being served by Cyprus’s EU accession. European Commission President Romano Prodi said last week that Cyprus would be among the first wave of EU members irrespective of a political settlement, but he expressed the hope that one could be reached before accession, which is likely by 2004. Cem warned that Turkey might be forced to take drastic measures. He was speaking during a budget debate in the Turkish national assembly.The price will be very high, he conceded, but Ankara will have to take definitive decisions. This, he said, would mean, We will either say, ‘OK, that’s it,’ and no one wants to say that, or we will be forced to say ‘We do not accept this decision.’ In Nicosia, de Soto said It would not be a good thing to let more time pass before talks can resume. Yesterday, ND parliamentray spokesman Procopis Pavlopoulos accused Simitis of mounting an organized mudslinging campaign.