Cyprus talks in Turkey’s court

Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday approved a new coalition administration in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus in which his son, Serdar, will handle foreign affairs. Administration leader Mehmet Ali Talat, whose Republican Turkish Party came first in the December 12 vote for a new house of representatives, but without the necessary majority to govern alone, has formed a coalition with Serdar Denktash’s Democrat Party. Both agree on the need for new peace talks to let Cyprus enter the European Union united on May 1. «Turkey was waiting for the formation of the government,» Talat said yesterday. «We will now get in touch with Turkey to determine a common policy in the shortest possible time, and will undertake initiatives to enable the United Nations secretary-general to restart negotiations.» In March, Rauf Denktash rejected a peace plan by Kofi Annan, which Talat said yesterday would serve as «the basis for negotiations.» The Cypriot government responded with caution. «The issue is not what the Turkish side says but what they will do if negotiations start,» government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said, briefing journalists on recent correspondence between Annan and Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos. On Monday, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said Annan would not renew his efforts until both sides resolve to find a solution. This followed a letter from Papadopoulos saying he was ready to enter talks at any time. «As things stand right now… I don’t think [Annan] will call for negotiations soon,» Chrysostomides said. Foreign Minister Giorgos Iacovou said Ankara «is still seeking to establish a new approach on Cyprus, which is why there has been an increase in contradictory statements from Turkish officials.» (Page 2)

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