Turk Cypriots still see UN plan as basis for deal

NICOSIA – Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat said yesterday that he saw no prospect for an early settlement on Cyprus, two years after the Greek Cypriots voted down a UN reunification plan. The anniversary of a failed referendum which led to a divided island entering the European Union in 2004 came as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice prepared to begin a regional tour with the Cyprus problem high on her agenda. Talat blamed the impasse on the Greek Cypriots while insisting that the UN-drafted plan which was overwhelmingly endorsed by his people should be the basis for any renewed peace talks. «The current circumstances show that the settlement of the Cyprus problem will take time… Unfortunately, opponents of a solution are in power in southern Cyprus,» he told a news conference. The Annan plan, named after UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, is the only «reasonable and rational starting point» for any fresh peace negotiations, he said. «If we start from ground zero, this can take us another 30 years.» Both communities are under pressure to break the deadlock and prepare the way for a renewal of UN sponsored talks. In the referendum, President Tassos Papadopoulos, the Greek-Cypriot president whose government in the south is the island’s internationally recognized administration, openly campaigned against the UN plan. Talat expressed disappointment with the EU’s failure to deliver promises on easing the international isolation of the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus as a reward for its people’s «yes» vote at the referendum. Ankara argues that the Greek Cypriots rejected the UN plan in the hope of extracting more concessions by using their EU membership as leverage to snag Turkey’s own accession ambitions. The reunification plan was killed off when 75 percent of Greek Cypriots voted against it in an April 24, 2004 referendum, although 64.9 percent of Turkish Cypriots were in favor. Greek-Cypriot opponents argued that the plan was biased and failed to provide security guarantees in the face of mighty neighbor Turkey. Papadopoulos said on the eve of the anniversary that he believed his people were «better off now» than they would have been under the UN plan. Yesterday, peace groups and left-wing trade union organizers invited «all Cypriots» to «Yes Day» celebrations in Turkish-held north Nicosia. «We consider this day as proof of our rightfulness on our path for a solution… and invite everyone who believes in a solution,» said a «Yes» rally poster. But fewer and fewer people in the south today appear interested in reunification, with peace talks have been shelved since the failure of what was the UN’s most comprehensive peace accord to date.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.