Annan: No miracles

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrives on Cyprus tomorrow in an effort to break the logjam in reunification talks being held between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. The visit comes at what Greece has called a crucial juncture in the problem of Cyprus, which has been divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974. A sign of how seriously Turkey is also taking the issue is the open disagreement that erupted between Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, who gave Denktash full backing, and Deputy Prime Mesut Yilmaz, who called on the Turkish-Cypriot leader to work harder toward a solution so as to help Turkish-EU relations. In an interview with Cyprus’s Mega Channel television, Annan explained why he was going to Cyprus now. «I am going with a message of hope, to talk to the two leaders,» he said, according to a dispatch by the Greek-language Athens News Agency. «I think this is the right time for us, to hold talks with regard to the negotiations, as to what we need to do to help the process.» Asked what he anticipated, Annan replied, «I don’t think anyone should expect miracles from this visit. This is a problem we have faced for a long time and I am one of those who never stops hoping.» He also said he would know better at the end of his visit whether Clerides and Denktash could reach a solution by the end of June or the end of the year. «I am not bringing a draft solution,» Annan said. Denktash, meanwhile, was in Ankara, where he received the renewed backing of Prime Minister Ecevit for his insistence on international recognition for the breakaway state in northern Cyprus – which Nicosia rejects. «No concessions should be expected on the freedoms and independence of Turkish Cypriots. A loss for Turkish Cypriots means a loss for Turks,» Ecevit said in a handwritten note on Saturday. «The Greek-Cypriot side has so far not made any positive contribution» to the talks, he added. This was in response to Yilmaz’s urging that Denktash reach a deal. «Denktash must be more accommodating if he wants to help Turkey. In 10 years’ time, our soldiers on Cyprus will outnumber the Turkish Cypriots,» Yilmaz said. «We are in the most critical month of the most critical year for our accession to the EU,» Yilmaz said. «If Turkey loses its opportunity with Europe, our national unity will be at risk.»