UN envoy on Cyprus as talks to resume

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s special envoy for Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, arrived on the island yesterday ahead of the resumption of tomorrow’s reunification talks and stressed that there is still much work to be done before a solution is found. «There is a lot of work to do; it’s not possible to underestimate the work we have to do.» The scheduled month-long talks required a «show of political courage and a spirit of compromise,» he added. In Brussels, he said there was no «Plan B» if the talks failed. Greece’s former foreign minister and leader of the ruling PASOK party, George Papandreou, was in Cyprus yesterday for talks with President Tassos Papadopoulos, other political leaders and the representatives of Turkish-Cypriot organizations and political parties. «Cyprus’s accession to the EU has overturned a 30-year situation and allows us to hope that a just and viable solution will be found that will correspond not only with UN resolutions but also the European acquis communautaire,» Papandreou said after his meeting with the president. European Commissioner Guenter Verheugen is due on the island today and an EU team will offer technical advice. De Soto and Verheugen said earlier in Brussels that the EU would not play a role in the peace talks other than finding solutions to problems relating to EU law and accommodating a settlement. «A kind of institutionalized (EU) role or something like that is not necessary,» Verheugen said, Reuters reported. In Ankara, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told a debate in Parliament: «Whether we like it or not, Turkey’s EU membership (bid) has been linked to Cyprus… A Cyprus in which the Turkish-Cypriot side is equal will be good for the Turkish Cypriots, good for Turkey and good for the European Union.»