NEWS

UN report on Cyprus due today

On the eve of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s presentation of his report to the Security Council on the failed effort to solve the Cyprus problem, his special envoy for Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, voiced criticism of the Greek-Cypriot leadership, noting that President Tassos Papadopoulos had presented his people only with what he saw as negative aspects of the Annan plan. [Papadopoulos, who is to meet with Annan in New York tomorrow, commented at Harvard University yesterday that he had no doubt about the wisdom of the plan’s rejection, saying it would have led to the continued division of the island. But, he added, the «no» vote did not imply rejection of reunification.] In an interview in Thessaloniki after a two-day visit to Mount Athos [translated from the Greek], de Soto said it was still not clear why the Greek Cypriots had rejected the UN plan. «We will need time to evaluate what happened and we would especially like to know why the Greek Cypriots voted the way they did, and what they want in future,» de Soto said. Commenting on rumors that Annan’s report will be harsh on Papadopoulos, de Soto said, «The report will be correct – it will render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s – and objective.» He added: «I really don’t know what Mr Papadopoulos’s aims are, what he is aiming for. Of course, we cannot judge people by their aims, especially when we don’t know what those aims are.» De Soto said he had hoped the island’s leaders would have presented both the pros and cons of the plan to their people. «I hoped they would explain to their people that this plan was a compromise. Of course, I knew what the polls were saying, but clearly I believe that the role of leaders is to change the trends shown by the polls,» he said. «The Greek-Cypriot leader made a presentation to Greek Cypriots on April 7 and in that presentation, he emphasized his negative opinion of the plan, omitting any reference to the benefits that would come from it. Of course, he knows that we disagree with his analysis of the plan and with his conclusions, naturally,» de Soto said. Asked to comment on why the Greek Cypriots had rejected the UN plan, de Soto mentioned possible security concerns. «Another view is that they do not really want to live with the Turkish Cypriots,» he added. He noted the late Archbishop Makarios and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash had agreed in 1977 on a bizonal, bicommunal federation. «Maybe the Greek Cypriots have changed their position on this, now that they are better off economically,» de Soto said. «Is this the reason, are there other reasons or is there a combination of different reasons?» On Greek-Cypriot claims that the international community was set on punishing them and rewarding the Turkish Cypriots (who voted to accept the Annan plan), de Soto said: «No one supports the recognition of the so-called northern Cypriot state… The issue here is not any punishment of the Greek Cypriots but whether the Turkish Cypriots should continue to be punished… The Turkish Cypriots must be helped, but not recognized as a state.» On whether he felt he had failed, de Soto said, «Of course, I am disappointed because what we did in these four years was bring the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to the point where they could solve their problem.» Asked whether there would soon be another initiative to reunify Cyprus, de Soto said, «Definitely not.» The Athens News Agency reported from New York, however, that diplomatic sources said Annan would offer a second chance for a solution to the Cyprus issue and would propose measures to support the Turkish Cypriots.