NEWS

Annan plan is supported, undermined

The leader of a pro-EU party, which won the most votes in Turkish-Cypriot elections last month and who campaigned on a promise to remove Rauf Denktash as negotiator on the Cyprus issue, yesterday struck a deal with Denktash’s son to form a coalition to lead the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot state. Also yesterday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan briefed Rauf Denktash on talks held by the Turkish government and military on the Cyprus issue last week. «Our common aim is to reach a permanent and just solution in the context of the good offices of the UN secretary-general (Kofi Annan), and on the basis of the reality on the island,» Erdogan said after the meeting. This meets the demand of the international community to agree to Annan’s plan for the island’s reunification, while also rejecting the plan through the implicit call for international recognition of the breakaway state set up in 1983 after the Turkish invasion in 1974. Denktash, who has said the Annan plan is dead, added after his talks with Erdogan: «I am satisfied because our opinions are in harmony.»  Mehmet Ali Talat, leader of the Republican Turkish Party, is expected to be named «prime minister» of the breakaway statelet today, after his deal with Serdar Denktash and his Democrat Party. Talat’s party is to get six portfolios and Denktash’s four, including the post of deputy prime minister and foreign minister for himself. The coalition will hold 26 seats in the 50-member assembly and end the deadlock after the Dec. 14 elections, in which Talat and another pro-Annan plan party won 25 seats and two parties supportive of Rauf Denktash won 25. The deal was welcomed warmly in Turkey, which is the only country to recognize the breakaway state. But Cyprus government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides told The Associated Press, «Talat fought the election on a platform demanding the replacement of Rauf Denktash and he has now allied himself with Denktash’s son, who is a staunch supporter of his father’s line.» Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos will pay a working visit to Greece on Sunday.