NEWS

UN presents revised Cyprus plan

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday presented the two communities of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey with the fourth version of his blueprint for Cyprus’s reunification. The parties must reply today. If they do not reach a deal, Annan will fill in the blanks and put the final proposal to referenda on the two sides of Cyprus on April 20, in the hope that a united island may join the EU on May 1. «I would appreciate formed reactions no later than tomorrow morning. We will evaluate those reactions and see whether further adjustments are necessary to finalize the text, in contact with all of you, by Wednesday 31 March,» Annan told the four delegations. The questions he said each should ask were: «Is this revised plan better than the one on the basis of which you agreed to negotiate? Does the package of improvements meet your core concerns? Can it reassure your people and give them the courage to seize the chance of peace? Does it respect the other side’s core interests?» He added: «I believe it does. I believe this is a win-win proposal.» The Greek-Cypriot and Greek sides, however, appeared to have strong reservations over the proposals. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is in Buergenstock, Switzerland, along with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a bid to help reach a solution. At 5.15 p.m. local time he received a telephone call from US President George W. Bush, who called on him to do all he could to help solve the Cyprus problem. British PM Tony Blair sent Karamanlis a letter with the same message. «The time limit of 48 hours is very tight,» Karamanlis reportedly told Bush. «We are here to help and there is good will,» he added. Greek government sources said that Athens understood the reservations of the Greek-Cypriot leadership with the fourth draft of Annan’s plan. Karamanlis met with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and the leaders of the Greek-Cypriot political parties yesterday morning. «Greece is here and actively involved in supporting the Cypriot government in its search for a solution in keeping with UN resolutions and in line with the acquis communautaire,» Karamanlis told Cyprus’s National Council. «It is obvious that it is the Cypriot government that is negotiating and the final decision rests with the Cypriot people.» Karamanlis also met with Annan and European Commissioner Guenter Verheugen and told the latter that Annan’s plan was incompatible with EU law with regard to the movement of people, capital and services. Verheugen reportedly said he would look into this. Presenting the plan, which comprises some 220 pages plus another 9,000 pages of annexes, Annan said: «We have tried to be helpful to each side in a manner compatible with the interests of the other. Inevitably, it has not been possible to accommodate all proposals for amendment. The result, as it must be, is an overall compromise.» Addressing first President Papadopoulos and the Greek-Cypriot delegation, he said: «The primary concern you have voiced has been to render the plan more functional and therefore more viable. I believe that this revised plan is significantly improved on this score, particularly in relation to the workings of the federal government, the updated transitional arrangements, the changes to the property scheme, the adjustments to ensure the financial soundness of the plan, and, of course, the completed laws and treaties.» To the Turkish-Cypriots, Annan said the plan addressed their need to preserve «the security and identity of the Turkish-Cypriot constituent state,» and that «protections envisaged in the plan for the Turkish Cypriots will be legally secure, and that Turkey would be able to maintain a moderate military presence even after her accession to the EU.»