Cyprus wants impetus from Annan visit

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrives on Cyprus today in an effort to break the deadlock in talks aimed at ending the island’s 28-year division. Although Annan has tried to play down his three-day visit – saying on Sunday that people should not expect «miracles» – Greek officials have noted that a UN secretary-general has not visited Cyprus since 1979. «The secretary-general does not intend to submit any plan for a solution. We believe that the meaning and the object of his presence here is to create a momentum in the peace process, to assist the process out of the current difficult phase,» Cypriot government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said. Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash have been discussing reunification for years but have kept stumbling over Denktash’s demand that his breakaway republic in the island’s north be granted international recognition. US Ambassador Donald Bandler met yesterday with Clerides and said: «We are looking forward to the visit of the secretary-general. It is an important visit, an opportunity to forge some progress towards a comprehensive solution that we would like to see.» Denktash sought to dampen expectations yesterday that a solution could be reached soon. «The chances of a solution by June have decreased,» Denktash told the Turkish-Cypriot news agency TAK. «In addition to the sides blaming each other, they have done all they can, but the expected breakthrough has not happened,» he said. Denktash tried to present Annan’s visit as a mere stopover in Cyprus during a larger tour. «In other words, he’s not coming especially to Cyprus,» he said. Annan’s visit «is not a miracle development,» he added. Annan is due at Larnaca airport late tonight. He is to meet with Clerides at 10.30 a. m. tomorrow and straight afterward separately with Denktash. He will then host a working dinner for both. Turkish Deputy PM Mesut Yilmaz on Saturday called on Denktash to show greater flexibility to help solve the Cyprus problem – an appeal with which his country’s other political forces disagree.