NEWS

Cyprus talks enter Phase II

The European Union’s leaders will discuss the Cyprus issue at their summit on Thursday and Friday and will include a paragraph on it in their final communique, following Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis’s persuading his EU counterparts to decide this yesterday. Four-party talks, involving the Greek and Turkish Cypriots and Greece and Turkey, will begin tomorrow. Prime ministers Costas Karamanlis of Greece and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey will join the talks in the Swiss resort of Buergenstock on Sunday. According to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s timetable, if the four-party talks also do not lead to agreement, he will fill in the blanks of his proposed solution and put this to referenda on Cyprus on April 20, in the hope that the island’s division can end before it joins the EU on May 1. But talks between Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash that had been held since Feb. 19 ended yesterday without any progress. Annan’s envoy, Alvaro de Soto, said that despite the «enormous work» done at the technical level, little progress had been made. «There have been glimmers here and there and differences narrowed but not the give-and-take on core issues we had hoped for,» he told a news conference in Nicosia. But he added: «I believe agreement is possible. Everyone accepts this is the end game and both sides are fully committed to holding referenda on Cyprus.» At the General Affairs Council in Brussels yesterday, Molyviatis briefed his colleagues on Greece’s demand for a viable solution on the basis of the Annan plan and in line with the acquis communautaire and all UN resolutions and EU decisions. He stressed that Greece could not accept Turkey’s demands that Cyprus not adopt EU primary laws and that this exception become EU law.