NEWS

Cypriot polls show intense opposition to UN peace plan

A majority of Greek Cypriots oppose a United Nations plan for the reunification of their war-divided island, and many admit to not understanding the details, according to three separate polls published yesterday. The surveys, conducted on behalf of three daily newspapers, were carried out during the past week amid massive media coverage of negotiations and raging public debate about the merits of the highly complex and detailed plan for ending the 30-year division of the island. Although 53 to 63 percent of citizens, depending on the poll, said they would vote against the plan if a referendum were staged yesterday, the high number of undecided voters highlights the complexity of the plan. In the three polls, 28 percent, 34.6 percent and 10 percent said they did not know how they would vote. Just 19 percent, 11 percent and 27 percent said they would vote in favor of the plan. Asked in the poll by top-selling Phileleftheros how well they understood the plan, 14 percent said «not at all,» 57 percent «not very well,» 21 percent «quite well,» and only 11 percent «very well.» The plan envisages the reunification of the island as a single state with one Greek-Cypriot and one Turkish-Cypriot federal region linked through a weak central government. The two sides disagree on fundamental aspects of the plan. More than 61 percent of respondents to the poll for the daily Politis said the plan favored the Turkish side; only 8.6 percent said it was balanced, and 0.8 percent said it favored the Greek Cypriots. A report on Saturday in the Turkish-Cypriot Afrika newspaper said a poll has found that 56 percent of Turkish-Cypriots would vote for the UN plan, and 12 percent against. Today, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash are to start a third week of peace talks on the grounds of the former Nicosia airport. Talks are to focus on matters of security, as well as the process whereby the Greek and Turkish parliaments are to ratify an agreement on reunification, should this emerge from the meetings. United Nations envoy for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto has expressed pessimism on the course of the talks, voicing hopes that further progress may be achieved after March 22, when Greece and Turkey are to join the negotiations – provided the Cypriots cannot thrash out a deal on their own. (AP, Kathimerini)