NEWS

Annan issues challenge to Papadopoulos

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan met yesterday with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and challenged him to tell the world how the Greek Cypriots envisioned an end to Cyprus’s division. The meeting at UN headquarters in New York came a day after details of Annan’s report to the Security Council were made public, revealing the extent to which the UN chief blamed the Greek-Cypriot leader for his people’s rejection of the UN plan in a referendum on April 24. Nicosia and Athens disagreed with Annan’s report. But, in a sign of what to expect when the EU announces its measures later this month to help the Turkish Cypriots, Commissioner Guenter Verheugen expressed satisfaction. «The secretary-general said that after the decisive rejection of the plan by the Greek Cypriots, it would be for that side to explain fully to the Turkish Cypriots, the UN and the rest of the world how they see the way forward,» Annan’s spokesman, Fred Eckhard, said after the two men met. Annan also urged Papadopoulos to take the initiative and respond positively to Annan’s appeal for states to eliminate unnecessary barriers to the development of the Turkish Cypriots, Eckhard said. «This will signal that the Greek Cypriots wish to reach out to their Turkish-Cypriot compatriots in the north, and assist them and help facilitate the eventual goal of reunification.» Papadopoulos commented only that the two had agreed on the need to provide economic assistance to Turkish Cypriots. Sources at the UN said Annan was prepared to get the Security Council to help ease Greek Cypriots’ security concerns. Earlier, Papadopoulos shrugged off Annan’s criticism. «Following a preliminary reading of the report, I established that it includes many inaccuracies,» Papadopoulos said. The report accused Papadopoulos of not participating in the effort to reach a negotiated solution and of distorting the UN plan in order to present it as being against Greek-Cypriot interests. Annan also stressed that as long as the stalemate remained, he would not resume his mediation effort. Papadopoulos rejects the claim that the Greek Cypriots do not want a solution based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation. «This was not a rejection of the solution but rejection of the specific plan. We insist on the solution of a bizonal, bicommunal federation that will reunite Cyprus and society,» Papadopoulos said of Annan’s report. He reportedly emphasized this in their talks yesterday. Officials in Athens also stressed the need for a settlement. «The issue is to keep open the possibility of the swiftest possible solution to the Cyprus problem and the island’s reunification,» Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis said. «Only then will Cyprus’s two communities be able to enjoy the benefits of EU accession in a climate of stability.» Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos also stressed the need for a solution, adding that Annan’s «evaluations do not always coincide with the evaluations of all the parties involved. At some points, in fact, the depictions are not altogether accurate.»