Cyprus in a fog of deliberations

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will today chair a meeting of his Inner Cabinet that will focus on efforts to solve the Cyprus issue and Greece’s economy. Yesterday, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos met with the leaders of the parties that supported his candidacy for the presidency and they decided that each party will decide independently its position on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s plan for the island’s reunification. Papadopoulos will state his position in a nationally broadcast statement at 8 p.m. tomorrow. The outlook ahead of the April 24 referenda among the Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot communities is complicated and Greek government sources were saying yesterday that it will be difficult to turn the current of overwhelming rejection of the Annan plan by Greek Cypriots. Greece’s ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK party appear to be moving toward approval of the reunification plan but have not said so explicitly. President Costis Stephanopoulos, at Karamanlis’s request, is to invite the leaders of all political parties to a meeting on the issue. This is expected after April 15. The Communist Party has already rejected Annan’s plan. Karamanlis is said to believe that the Annan plan is the product of a compromise and has good and bad points for both sides. The Cypriot president, who has not made clear his position, is believed to be tending toward rejection of the proposal, and will explain his reasoning tomorrow night. Thinking between Greek-Cypriot parties (and in some cases within them) was divided. Also, veteran Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash opposes the plan, whereas the «prime minister» of the breakaway statelet that he leads, Mehmet Ali Talat, says he will campaign for a «yes» vote. Yesterday, Turkey’s National Security Council, which brings together the country’s government and military leadership, issued a cautious statement indicating that the military is not sold on the plan that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan backs. «Together with its positive points, there are demands of ours that have not been met, and there is also the danger that some problems may arise in applying the plan,» the council said. It repeated the demand, which the Annan plan does not satisfy, that an agreement make Cyprus permanently exempt from some EU principles. «In this framework (the council) stressed the importance of the solution being made European Union primary law,» it said. But the council stressed that it was up to the government to evaluate Annan’s plan and decide what to do. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, in an interview with the daily Hurriyet, said: «If Greek Cypriots vote ‘no’ and Turkish Cypriots vote ‘yes,’ I will seek recognition for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus… I shall proudly travel the planet advocating recognition of the TRNC.» Only Ankara recognizes as a state the part of Cyprus that its troops have occupied since 1974. Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis and ND general secretary Evangelos Meimarakis will visit Cyprus today. A senior PASOK delegation, including foreign affairs spokeswoman Anna Diamantopoulou and former ministers Akis Tsochadzopoulos and Yiannos Papantoniou, visited yesterday. In Athens, US Ambassador Thomas Miller met with Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis and PASOK leader George Papandreou. Today Molyviatis will meet with British Ambassador David Madden.

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