NEWS

Denktash wants ‘child’ with Clerides

ANKARA/NICOSIA (Combined reports) – Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has said he and Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides have agreed to work to reunify their island in a common state, which he described as a «common child,» Turkey’s Anatolia news agency reported on Saturday. He and Clerides signaled, however, that differences persist. «We have decided to make a common child, but it is not clear yet whether it will be a girl or a boy. It is important, however, that it is not illegitimate,» Denktash was quoted as telling Turkish reporters in New York after talks with Clerides and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The United Nations announced on Friday that the two Cypriots agreed to set up two committees to work on treaties and laws for a future «common state.» For his part, Clerides expressed disappointment about the progress of talks, upon his arrival back in Cyprus on Saturday. «From the discussions that took place, there did not appear to be a bridge between the basic positions of the two sides… there is a big gap on sovereignty,» Clerides told reporters at Cyprus’s Larnaca airport. He also said Annan remained undecided about whether to submit a UN peace plan or ideas aimed at breaking the deadlock. Clerides said the two basic disagreements were over «sovereignty and whether Cyprus will be reunified as a new state or as the old state… The great gap here prevented discussion of other aspects of the problem.» Annan asked the two leaders to meet with him again in November, after Denktash recuperates from heart surgery he will undergo in New York today. «The opportunity that is at hand must be seized,» Annan said after the talks on Friday. «In this regard, Greece and Turkey have an important role to play and I look forward to their continued support.» But Turkish Foreign Minister Sukru Sina Gurel repeated Denktash’s threat of the island’s permanent division. «The EU has started to say that it will admit the Greek-Cypriot side unilaterally, even if there is no solution. But they are not being realistic,» Gurel said. «If the EU keeps this position, it will achieve nothing more than certifying the island’s division and ensuring that it lasts forever.» (AFP, AP)