NEWS

Cyprus ready for talks at UN’s behest

On the 29th anniversary of a coup by Greek Cypriots that prompted a Turkish invasion a few days later, President Tassos Papadopoulos yesterday stressed his government’s readiness to hold reunification talks whenever UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan summons him. Papadopoulos also commented on Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash’s proposal, made public last week, for Nicosia’s airport to reopen and for Greek Cypriots to return to the town of Varosha. The National Council of Greek-Cypriot officials and party leaders on Monday authorized the president to respond to Denktash in a letter to Annan. Papadopoulos, who did not say what he would reply to Denktash, said the proposals had been overtaken by events. The Cypriot government, Greece and international mediators want Denktash to agree to a comprehensive solution on the basis of a plan proposed by Annan. Papadopoulos, responding to reporters’ questions, said he did not know if Annan had responded to Denktash’s proposals but that the Cypriot delegation at the UN was aware that officials were examining them. But, he added, from his contacts with US and British officials he knew that the Turkish-Cypriot leader’s initiatives did not mislead anyone. Denktash, meanwhile, commented yesterday that Monday’s ratification of Cyprus’s EU accession by the House of Representatives was not binding for Turkish Cypriots who, he said, «should not feel sorrow at this fact but should show the European Union that this was an illegal act which was ratified by the illegal Greek-Cypriot administration.» However, it is the breakaway state declared by Denktash in northern Cyprus that is recognized by no country other than Turkey while Papadopoulos’s government is recognized internationally. Sirens wailed yesterday at 8.20 a.m., the time at which the coup by Greek Cypriots, backed by the junta in Athens, began on July 15, 1974. Turkish troops invaded five days later, ostensibly to protect the Turkish-Cypriot minority. Memorial services were held yesterday and the House of Representatives held a special ceremony and condemned the coup.