‘Better’ outlook on Cyprus

Greece will do everything in its power to ensure that Cyprus’s accession to the European Union proceeds without any hitch, the government insisted yesterday. Meanwhile, as the crucial month of June approaches, Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was quoted as saying the prospects of a swift peace settlement on the war-divided island are looking better. Speaking in the central Greek town of Lamia on Saturday, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said Cyprus’s accession course «is progressing well,» and stressed that the matter of the island republic’s joining the EU is separate from the question of whether a political solution will be found for the 28-year old division. Government spokesman Christos Protopappas told the Cypriot Sunday Phileleftheros paper that Athens is prepared to face any eventuality in the months leading up to the EU decision on Cyprus’s accession. «We undertake, even if there is the slightest attempt to hinder Cyprus’s accession course, to do everything in order to secure Cyprus’s smooth entry to the Union,» he said. Meanwhile, in the Turkish-occupied north, Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was quoted by the Turkish state Anatolia News Agency as saying the prospects of an agreement with Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides look better. Anatolia quoted Denktash as saying that «everybody can see things are improving.» In Ankara on Saturday, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz accused the EU of using the issue of accession to pressure Turkey into a softer stance on a solution to the political problem. He claimed that Turkish and Greek consent is required for the island to join the EU. As the United Nations-endorsed deadline, set for the end of June for an agreement in the face-to-face talks between Denktash and Clerides, draws close, US and British envoys are expected on the island early next month.