NEWS

Cyprus to destroy Makarios-era guns

Nicosia is negotiating with the United Nations over how to destroy an arms cache as part of reconciliation efforts with the Turkish Cypriots on Cyprus, officials said yesterday. «This shows good will on our part, and we are always trying to improve the mood of talks,» a Cypriot government official told AFP. The government proposed that the 4,500 Czech-made pistols and automatic rifles be destroyed earlier this month, ahead of the ongoing talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. Ironically, the weapons are kept in the UN compound which encompasses the venue for the Clerides-Denktash peace talks at the abandoned Nicosia international airport. The arms were ordered in 1972 by then-president Archbishop Makarios amid fears that pro-Enosis (union with Greece) groups linked to the Greek military junta were plotting to overthrow him. After Ankara and Athens objected, the guns were kept in UN custody. (AFP) Sofia’s former government, however, remained firm that it did not want to close down units 3 and 4 until 2008 or even 2010, while Brussels wants them shut down by 2006. The plant has two other, more modern megawatt units. The new government, which took office last July, appears ready to accommodate the EU. «Efforts are being made in this direction,» Saxe-Coburg-Gotha told AFP this week when asked if 2006 was the target date for the closure. The country’s press is concerned. «A scandal,» said the daily Dnevnik. «Simeon’s concession is almost a crime,» said Republica. «The price of electricity will shoot up,» said Standard.