NEWS

Security Council to endorse plan

With Greek-Cypriot opposition to the UN plan for Cyprus’s reunification strong ahead of Saturday’s referendum, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has asked the Security Council to provide guarantees that could help win backing for the plan. «I would hope that the Council could reassure Cypriots, as they proceed to referenda, that the United Nations is prepared to act to meet the responsibilities foreseen for it under the plan,» Annan wrote in the report to the Security Council that was released yesterday. He asked the Council to endorse the basic agreement creating a United Cyprus Republic, ban arms sales to the country and approve the mandate of a new UN force on the island. Dimitris Christofias, head of the Communist AKEL (the largest Greek-Cypriot party) reiterated yesterday that his his party could lift its objections to the plan if its conditions were met. «I hope those guarantees will be provided that will lead to an unconditional ‘yes’ from AKEL, which it so wants to say,» Christofias said yesterday. President Tassos Papadopoulos is strongly opposed to the plan, which is aimed at reunifying the island before it joins the EU on May 1. Polls show a majority of Greek Cypriots ready to vote against the plan. Turkish Cypriots, despite the objections of their leader, Rauf Denktash, appear headed for a «yes.» Yesterday, former presidents Glafcos Clerides and George Vassiliou, the center-right Democratic Rally opposition party and various other groups announced the formation of a united platform to campaign for a «yes» vote. «History has brought us to this crossroad and it depends on each of us whether our country will see a better future with a strong ‘yes,’ or whether our country will face worse circumstances,» Clerides told a news conference. Annan asked the Security Council to endorse the Foundation Agreement in order «to reassure the two sides that the Council is cognizant of their key concerns and endorses the means by which they are addressed in the agreement.» The new UN force would enjoy freedom of movement throughout the island and comprise about 2,500 troops (which is double the current force), 510 civilian police and a «substantial number» of national and international civilian staff. Its new mandate would include monitoring and verification of the parties’ compliance with the plan’s provisions relating to troops withdrawals, dissolution of local forces and police activities, the UN announced.