Annan meets with Cypriots in New York

Two days of talks between UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash got off to an inauspicious start when the latter repeated his threat that Cyprus’s accession to the EU would lead to the island’s permanent division. «I will only say one thing. If the European Union accepts ‘Cyprus’ as a member, the talks will end and Cyprus will be divided forever,» Dentash said before a meeting with Annan in New York, according to Turkey’s Anatolia news agency. Efforts to reunite Cyprus, which was divided by a Turkish invasion in 1974, have stalled over Denktash’s insistence on recognition for the Turkish-occupied, self-proclaimed statelet in the island’s north. The EU is to decide at a summit in Copenhagen in December whether Cyprus will be among several new members. Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots are opposed to the island’s accession. Annan met with Clerides and was to meet later separately with Denktash. All three would then meet for talks. «We’re going to try and do as much as we can to come to an understanding and bring the talks to closure (and) at least come to an agreement on the core issues by the end of the year,» Annan said before yesterday’s talks began. On Wednesday, he said he hoped Clerides and Denktash would «discuss honestly with me what efforts have been made to make progress in the talks.» «When I met with them in May, there were indications that we should be able to make progress by the end of the year,» he said. The UN Security Council has called for reunification of Cyprus as a single state made up of Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot federal regions. After returning from last month’s talks in Paris between Annan and the Cypriot leaders, Clerides said Annan may submit his own plan to settle the conflict if talks keep faltering. But Annan said on Wednesday he had no intention of submitting a plan. Yesterday Annan said that if his aim of reaching an agreement on core issues by the end of the year was not achieved, «then we will have to find a way to bring the talks to closure after the end of the year.»