NEWS

Denktash ‘yes and no’ to plan

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has replied to Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos’s call to resume mediation on the Cyprus issue, saying that he will do so when both sides show the necessary political will to hold talks on the basis of his plan to reunify the island in time for Cyprus’s EU accession on May 1, the Athens News Agency reported yesterday. Papadopoulos, who is to visit Athens on Sunday, wrote to Annan on December 17, reiterating the Greek Cypriots’ wish to resume talks whenever Annan summoned the two sides. Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who had previously said the Annan plan was «dead,» yesterday said, «The Annan plan is still on the table.» But he added that efforts were being made to bring it «into an acceptable state.» EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen said yesterday he believes reunification talks will resume very soon. He was speaking after the parties headed by Mehmet Ali Talat and Serdar Denktash agreed to form a coalition to lead Turkish Cypriots. «We have now a very, very good chance of resuming the talks under the leadership of the United Nations very, very soon,» Verheugen told the Agence France-Presse in Brussels. «There is a possibility of organizing the accession of a united Cyprus before May 1. It’s still possible. I can’t say whether it’s likely or not. That depends a little bit on developments in the near future,» he said. «I was told that the new government in the northern part of Cyprus has a clear political objective of helping to find a solution based on the Kofi Annan plan,» he said. «If the Turks can manage to get Denktash (senior) positively involved, it would be a major achievement.»