Pessimism on Cyprus

Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday expressed pessimism at the likelihood of the Cyprus problem being solved before the EU summit on December 12 which is to decide on candidates’ membership. His comment to Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee came at about the same time that the meetings between UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash were thrown into doubt. Denktash, in New York for the talks, underwent an angiocardiograph, Turkey’s Anatolia news agency reported. It said that this was scheduled and that Denktash was discharged from the hospital after checks revealed he was in good health. The Athens News Agency, however, in a report from Cyprus, quoted Cypriot journalists in New York as saying that Denktash had felt chest pains and was admitted to the hospital. Turkish sources said Denktash would meet with Annan today, but the ANA said his meetings with US coordinator Thomas Weston and British mediator Lord Hannay had been canceled. Before Denktash’s ailment was reported, Annan had made clear that he would not present a draft compromise for Cyprus until after the Turkish elections of November 3. This is expected to contain proposals on territory, security and a blueprint for the central government. Papandreou said, «There is no guarantee that Annan’s plan will not be detrimental, foreseeing a solution based on division, beyond the spirit of UN resolutions.» He said that if this occurred, «we will see how we will express our rejection, without this creating a problem for Cyprus’s (EU) accession.» But he said that there was no time for negotiations in the three weeks between the Turkish elections and the Copenhagen summit. Meanwhile, government spokesman Christos Protopappas yesterday hailed as a «significant statement» Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit’s comment on Tuesday that if Cyprus joined the EU this would not be «the end of the world.» But he added that Athens would wait to see what Ankara did.