UN blames Denktash for talks impasse

NICOSIA (AP) – Greek Cypriots were delighted Saturday that the United Nations has gently rebuked the Turkish-Cypriot leader for the lack of progress in reconciliation talks. Turkish-Cypriot newspapers ran long stories on what they called the «misinformation» about the four months of intensive negotiations between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. The UN Security Council issued a statement Thursday to encourage the leaders to make a greater effort and reach the June deadline set for a settlement of the Cyprus problem. The island has been divided into a Turkish-occupied north and a Greek Cypriot-run south since Turkey invaded in 1974 after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. The Security Council «urged both sides, but particularly the Turkish side» to cooperate with the United Nations for a settlement. In a special message marking the Orthodox Easter, Clerides welcomed the council’s statement, which also said a settlement must be based on Security Council resolutions. Clerides also welcomed the announcement that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan would be visiting Cyprus in the middle of the month in an effort to break the deadlock. On the Turkish side of Cyprus, newspapers carried extensive reports Saturday quoting Denktash’s displeasure with the developments. Denktash was quoted as saying that Alvaro de Soto, the UN envoy who is conducting the talks, «did not brief the Security Council adequately.» The council’s criticism of the Turkish side «was the result of misinformation,» Denktash was quoted as saying. In the talks, Denktash has reportedly maintained his longstanding insistence on recognition of his breakaway state in the occupied north of the island – which is rejected in Security Council resolutions. Clerides, whose government accepts the resolutions, has been pressing for years for a clear stand by the UN as to which side is dragging its feet. Cypriot Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said that the council statement «reflects the behavior of each side at the negotiating table up to now.»