NEWS

EU presses for ‘yes’ to UN plan

The UN Security Council was to discuss a resolution last night aimed at assuring Cypriots that Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s plan for their island’s reunification will be implemented, along with security guarantees for them. With Greek Cypriots appearing headed for a «no» vote in their referendum on Saturday, European officials warned them of unspecified consequences if they are responsible for the island’s continuing division after Cyprus joins the EU on May 1. «Life will not be the same. Everybody has to know that,» EU foreign policy and defense chief Javier Solana said after a meeting with US Secretary of State Colin Powell. Solana refused to elaborate on this, but he warned that if the plan is rejected, «probably the train may not return» to reunify the island. But the European affairs minister of the Netherlands, the EU’s next rotating president, also noted that the bloc would take care of the Turkish Cypriots in the event they were left out of the EU due to the Greek Cypriots’ vote. «We will not leave northern Cyprus out in the cold. We would have to reconsider our positions in the EU,» Atzo Nicolai said on a visit to Ankara. Like Solana, he too refused to give details. Powell has been lobbying hard to change Greek Cypriots’ minds ahead of the referendum but has refused to say what measures the United States might take for Turkish Cypriots after Saturday’s vote. «That’s not what we’re focusing on,» he said. Yesterday, Powell held out hope that the Greek Cypriots might still change their minds. «I think it’s possible right now to get a ‘yes,’» he said. This hope was probably based on the possibility of AKEL, the biggest Greek-Cypriot party, deciding to back Annan’s plan after being given assurances that its implementation will be guaranteed. With US backing, Britain presented the Security Council with two draft resolutions. «We are working with the UN Security Council on a resolution that we would like to see acted upon this week and that resolution should give encouragement to the Cypriots both north and south that the UN will be putting its weight behind this agreement,» Powell said. The first, which was to be discussed last night, would ban the importation of arms on Cyprus and modify the UN peacekeeping force so as to help monitor compliance with the reunification deal. AKEL was waiting for today to see what the Security Council resolution would look like. The second resolution is to adopt Annan’s plan after Cypriots approve of it. European Commissioner Guenter Verheugen told the Greek-Cypriot newspaper Phileleftheros yesterday that the Commission could guarantee democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.