Nicosia says Annan offer unfair

The government of Cyprus yesterday accused UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan of «unfairness» in asking it to spell out, in writing, its objections to the rejected peace proposal he had submitted early last year, insisting that the demand amounted to a call for the government to reveal its negotiation strategy ahead of a possible new round of talks for the reunification of the island. «We must study the full text of (Annan’s) statement very carefully. On first evaluation, I consider that the statement is not objective,» Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos told reporters in Nicosia yesterday. «I do not think it is objective on the one hand to refer to statements and declarations made by (Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip) Erdogan and on the other to ask for written proposals from our side,» Papadopoulos added. In comments made to the Cyprus News Agency late on Thursday, Annan had «urged» Papadopoulos «to really put his views on paper, the changes he would want to have… The proposal was on the table. He had objections to it and a detailed list of his objections would help.» The Greek government was taken by surprise by Annan’s statement and, according to sources, views it as a sign that at least some members of the international community are actively pushing for a negotiated solution sooner rather than later. The United States has openly sided in favor of such a solution. Greece’s – and Cyprus’s – concern is not to see this call for an early solution taken up by the other European Union member states. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis met yesterday morning to discuss the implications of Annan’s call. Statements by the Greek and Cypriot governments revealed subtly worded differences in the two countries’ approach to a solution. Differences on ways to respond to the UN secretary-general appeared among Cypriot political parties. «Our steady aim is the reunification of the island. We believe in a viable and working solution on the Cyprus issue, on the basis of the Annan plan, in accordance with (UN) Security Council decisions and EU principles and values,» Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said, adding that «within this framework, any action that can contribute toward achieving a solution, which, of course, must be accepted by all Cypriots, is positive.» Papadopoulos, on his part, declared: «We must examine the purpose of (Annan’s) proposals. What does he intend to do next? What sort of initiative does he intend to undertake, if he does? I believe we must rid ourselves of the arbitration syndrome and undertake actual, useful talks.» Cypriot government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said that the government was not about to reveal its strategy and that, anyway, the «essence» of Papadopoulos’s objections to the Annan plan was contained in a letter to the secretary-general last June. Cyprus’s Communist Party, AKEL, and center-right Democratic Rally (DISY) called on the government not to ignore Annan’s offer, while Papadopoulos’s own centrist Democratic Party (DIKO) criticized Annan’s initiative. The Annan plan for the reunification of Cyprus, narrowly approved by the inhabitants of the Turkish-occupied part of the island, was rejected by 76 percent of Greek Cypriots in referenda held simultaneously on April 24, 2004.

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