NEWS

Denktash still won’t discuss plan

NICOSIA (Reuters) – Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said yesterday he had no intention of resuming negotiations on a United Nations peace plan, despite pressure from Turkey, the European Union and the United States. Denktash has long opposed UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s blueprint, but many commentators had hoped he would modify his stance after a December 14 vote in the Turkish-occupied north gave his supporters and opponents an equal number of seats in the house of representatives. Turkey, the only country to recognize the Turkish-Cypriot enclave, has also urged Denktash to return to the Annan plan, fearing that a lack of progress could harm its own efforts to begin entry talks with the EU in early 2005. «The Annan plan is a plan that is not open to negotiation,» Denktash told reporters. «Thus, to sit at the table and negotiate the Annan plan means we accept this document with all its ugliness and mistakes and all the injustices in it.» Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul displayed growing impatience with Denktash. «In this critical period, wasting time with enmity and propaganda would cost us all dear in the long run,» he told Parliament. «We have the necessary political will for a solution and we support the United Nations’ good faith mission.» Gul said both Turkish and Greek Cypriots must show flexibility. But Denktash, who is in talks with party leaders to form a new administration, reaffirmed his belief that the Annan plan would erode his community’s rights, putting it at the mercy of the more numerous and wealthier Greek Cypriots. «This plan puts immoral pressure on us and Turkish Cypriots will not bow to this pressure,» he said, adding that 51 percent of voters had effectively rejected the plan by failing to back pro-settlement parties. [Meanwhile yesterday, Mehmet Ali Talat, whose Republican Turkish Party (CTP) came first in the polls, told Kathimerini that he might back down from his initial insistence on the replacement of Denktash as a negotiator on reunification. Talat indicated that Denktash could stay on provided the new administration can appoint a body of negotiators to assist him.]