Time is running out for a solution on Cyprus as EU’s May 1, 2004, accesion deadline looms

The intransigent positions adopted by the Turkish leadership, and the shortage of time available, do not bode well for a resolution of the Cyprus issue before the country enters the European Union on May 1, given that the conditions set out in the plan drafted by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan call for an agreement by March 1, according to Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos. The Cypriot president arrives in Athens tomorrow for an official visit and talks with the Greek government, which diplomatic sources say will be decisive for the coordination of activity within the European Union and in view of the US initiative expected after the elections in the Turkish-occupied north of the island. Papadopoulos talked to Kathimerini about the problem of the settlers from Turkey in the north of the island, not only with regard to the elections there in December but to the referendum which is to follow the announcement of an agreement. This problem is made even more complicated given that the Turkish Cypriots, in whose favor the Annan proposal is supposed to function, are now a minority. Papadoupoulos’s rivals, and not only in Cyprus, accuse him of intransigence, but as he himself says, his efforts are directed at making the solution called for in the Annan proposal «more functional and viable,» through tough negotiations. Here he has the full support of the government and political parties in Greece. As for the negotiations on security in a united island, Papadopoulos insists that the agreement should be guaranteed not by Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash but by the Turkish Parliament. This view had received the support of the foreign mediators in The Hague, but had been rejected by the Turkish side.