NEWS

Cyprus efforts pick up steam

This will be a crucial week for the Cyprus issue, with President Glafcos Clerides holding face-to-face talks with Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash tomorrow for the first time in four years. The UN secretary general’s special envoy, Alvaro de Soto, arrived on the island on Saturday and is to hold separate talks with Clerides and Denktash today before sitting in on their meeting tomorrow. US Secretary of State Colin Powell will be in Ankara tomorrow and he said on Thursday that he will try to speed up efforts for a Cyprus settlement. His special envoy for Cyprus, Thomas Weston, told Kathimerini on Sunday that the United States believes 2002 will be a crucial year for solving the Cyprus issue, given that the EU wants to discuss the accession of a number of candidate countries – including Cyprus – at its Copenhagen summit next December. Weston made clear that Washington is determined to make use of Cyprus’s progress toward EU accession, saying: «We support the Cyprus’s EU accession and we are working hard to reach a solution that will help accession.» Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit yesterday chaired a previously unscheduled meeting of the country’s military and political leaders which was expected to discuss Cyprus and other issues. Markis also noted a recent spate of critical comments by government officials against prosecutors who filed reports on cases where ministers and managers at state-run companies appeared to have acted illegally. In one instance, former Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis alleged a prosecutor was in cahoots with the opposition New Democracy party when he filed mismanagement charges against the board of the Land Registry company overseen by Laliotis’s ministry. «We have no wish to become involved in political issues or party rivalries,» Markis said. «But oversight has also to look at the functioning of civil services or public companies.»