Turkey’s PM wants end to Cyprus issue

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on a visit to Germany, said yesterday that his country would do everything possible to help solve the Cyprus issue by May, when Cyprus is to join the EU. But the Cypriot government expressed doubt over Ankara’s intentions, estimating that Turkey had sided with Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and had reduced hopes of achieving a deal on the basis of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s plan. «The Cyprus question must be solved by May 1. We will make the necessary steps in this regard,» Erdogan said in Berlin, Reuters reported. «There must be good will on both sides, if that is not the case then the problems cannot be solved. We will certainly show our good will.» Cypriot government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides commented to Reuters: «There is nothing concrete on the table. We hope Turkish political attitudes will change for negotiations to start as soon as possible.» Erdogan will discuss Cyprus with US President George W. Bush in Washington on January 28. On Thursday, Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Erdogan, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and the country’s top soldier, Hilmi Ozkok, held talks on the Cyprus issue. «Turkey continues its support for the good offices of the UN secretary-general (Kofi Annan) and confirms its political determination for the speedy achievement of a settlement based on the realities of the island through negotiations,» said a statement by Sezer’s office. The officials agreed «it will be useful to start initiatives for the revival of peace talks.» Turkey’s National Security Council will discuss Cyprus again on January 23. But Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iakovou noted that Thursday’s announcement did not mention the Annan plan and that this showed the Turkish government had not persuaded the country’s military that the talks should be held on the basis of the plan. Denktash has said the plan is dead. Ahmet Ali Talat, leader of the party that got the most votes in last month’s elections, said he would do his best to form a government by Monday.

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