World assures Cypriots on plan

With the referenda on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s proposal for Cyprus’s reunification scheduled for Saturday, the United Nations and the United States are concentrating on providing assurances to wary Greek Cypriots that they will guarantee the implementation of the plan. Although opposition to Annan’s plan remained strong among Greek Cypriots, recent polls showed that they were less certain about voting against it on Saturday. Turkish Cypriots appear headed for a «yes» vote. Greek news media reported from New York that Annan will present the UN Security Council today with a report on his efforts to end Cyprus’s division before it joins the EU on May 1. The reports said that the United States and Britain were insisting on a resolution to be issued by Wednesday at the latest. This could set out the role that the UN will play in guaranteeing security for Cyprus and the implementation of the plan. The leader of Communist AKEL, the largest Greek-Cypriot party, Dimitris Christofias, said on Friday it might back the plan if were guaranteed by the UN and EU. He said he would not be satisfied by just a «statement» but would want something more concrete. «We need… guarantees for the proper implementation of the plan,» he told Greek state television ERT. «But guarantees not from guarantor powers, but from the Security Council and the EU,» he said. «If there are developments today or tomorrow at the Security Council and we are satisfied, then we will change our position.» In a series of interviews to Greek and Turkish media on Friday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell sought to assure all involved that Annan’s plan had the strongest guarantees. «We have made it clear, the United Nations has made it clear, the secretary-general of the United Nations has made it clear and the European Union has made it clear that we expect both parties to abide by all elements of the plan. And I have been encouraged by the statements coming from Turkey, Prime Minister Erdogan and others in his government, that they fully intend to meet their obligations under the plan,» Powell told Greece’s Antenna TV. «The international community will insist on helping the parties meet their obligations,» he said. On Friday, the Security Council issued a statement saying it was ready to establish a new operation on Cyprus if the Annan plan were accepted and that it «would also be committed to helping ensure that the parties fully meet their commitments under the statement.» Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, who is opposed to the Annan plan, commented on the Friday statement in an interview with Athens’s Ethnos newspaper yesterday: «When you buy a fridge or a TV set from a close friend you ask for a written guarantee that will hold up in court. So, when dealing with the future of a country, how can you accept a statement?» The Greek-Cypriot newspaper Politis yesterday published a daily poll by SRI among 150-200 people which showed support for a «no» vote, dropping from 71 percent on April 14 to 62 percent on April 15 and 54 percent on April 16. Support for «yes» rose from 12 percent to 17 percent over the same period while the undecided swelled from 17 percent to 29 percent. A poll by Greece’s VPRC conducted on April 15-16 found that 66.9 percent of Greek Cypriots who are not refugees are thinking of voting «no,» while 64.5 percent of refugees are thinking the same. A «yes» is backed by 21.3 percent of refugees and 19.8 percent of non-refugees. A poll conducted among Turkish Cypriots on April 11-16 found that 62 percent were prepared to vote «yes,» despite the strenuous opposition of veteran leader Rauf Denktash.

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