Cyprus sees hope in New York

Cyprus appeared upbeat yesterday that the meetings between UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in New York on Thursday and Friday could be fruitful. Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said that despite the continuing intransigence of the Turkish side (which insists on international recognition for the breakaway state in northern Cyprus), the events of the coming months allow room for optimism. He noted that the international community’s stand will play a decisive role in developments. A favorable outcome in the Turkish elections of November 3, coupled with proposals that the UN may submit could also play an important role, he added. Yesterday, the Cyprus News Agency quoted Britain’s minister for Europe, Peter Hain, repeating the EU’s position that Cyprus’s division did not have to end before the island joined the EU. Replying to a question by Labor MP Andrew Love, Hain stressed that the EU had decided at its 1999 summit in Helsinki that a political settlement of the Cyprus issue would facilitate its accession, but if no settlement has been reached by the completion of accession negotiations, the decision on accession would be made without a solution to the Cyprus problem being a precondition. However, he said, the EU will take into account all relevant factors. Also yesterday, the Cypriot daily Politis published an interview with the US State Department’s coordinator for Cyprus, Thomas Weston, in which he said he did not believe that there was any reason for Ankara to provoke a military incident if Cyprus joins the EU – as some Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot officials have warned. Weston said that the United States would do whatever was necessary, depending on the situation.

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