NEWS

Promises for UN’s Cyprus proposals

Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said yesterday that his government wanted reunification talks to begin and that he expected UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to respond soon to his request to resume his involvement in the negotiations. A day earlier, Turkey expressed its support for a resumption of the talks and the country’s military denied reports of a rift with the government over Cyprus. In Nicosia, the National Council of top party and government leaders met on Monday and discussed the Cyprus issue, including a letter sent by US President George Bush to Papadopoulos. The Greek and Turkish prime ministers received similar letters urging them to return to talks aimed at adopting Annan’s reunification plan before Cyprus joins the EU on May 1. «We will reply, stressing our steady desire for the start of talks without preconditions,» Papadopoulos said yesterday. He said he was expecting Annan to respond in the next few days to Cyprus’s request for him to get involved again. Papadopoulos expressed skepticism at Ankara’s announcement on Monday that it wanted a resumption of the talks. «It remains to be seen in practice whether it accepts (the Annan plan) or whether this is a show of acceptance so that it can set conditions that will neutralize it.» Turkey’s government spokesman, Cemil Cicek, said after a Cabinet meeting on Monday, «The fact that Turkey is expending more efforts for a solution when compared to the past should not be overlooked… We sincerely want a settlement,» Cicek said. «If the conflict is not resolved within a certain time frame, the responsibility will not be Turkey’s,» he added. The Cabinet was briefed on a draft proposal being prepared by the Turkish Foreign Ministry on the basis of the Annan plan. «We accept the Annan plan as a basis of negotiations. Naturally, this does not mean that we accept it entirely as it is. But we say there are issues worth negotiating there,» Cicek said. Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash opposes the Annan plan. Turkey’s general staff denied a report in the Cumhuriyet daily that it was at odds with the Foreign Ministry, saying the military believes in «finding a just and durable solution.»