NEWS

Lack of progress on Cyprus

After five days of revived peace talks on Cyprus based on a United Nations blueprint, neither party appeared particularly optimistic yesterday as to the progress made. «It’s too early to talk about a convergence of views,» Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos told journalists. «We are now at the stage where each side presents its opinions, with whatever arguments it has to back them, and listens to the other side’s arguments.» «We have covered all the issues of the first chapter to do with the workings and functionality of central government and how senate representatives are elected,» he added. Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said that talks were at a stage of «give-and-take,» observing that progress «is not happening at the desired rate.» He said Papadopoulos had told him he would not agree to put the UN plan to a referendum unless Turkish Cypriots endorse all the 114 EU laws Nicosia has already adopted as part of its accession. «He is saying this knowing that this is physically impossible,» Denktash complained. According to a leaked eight-page document presented at the talks by Denktash, the Turkish Cypriots want changes on all the core issues. In Ankara, the Turkish military general staff said that any solution must not compromise Turkey’s national security, a statement widely seen as insistence on Turkish occupation forces staying on the island. Turkey has over 30,000 troops on Cyprus. Tomorrow, US State Department envoy for Cyprus Thomas Weston is due on the island. Cyprus’s central bank governor, Christodoulos Christodoulou, said yesterday that the bank will be unable to function under the UN plan as it stands, while problems will emerge in several sectors of the economy.