NEWS

Cyprus awaits UN plan

Greece, Cyprus and Turkey have now turned their attention to the UN plan for a solution to the Cyprus problem which is expected to be made public after Turkey’s November 3 elections. US State Department coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston said in Brussels yesterday that UN experts were working on the plan and that it would be presented as a «package of proposals.» In other words, it will contain compromises on the issues that divide the two sides in an effort by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to end the impasse before December, when the EU summit is to decide on the accession of Cyprus and other countries. This comes a day after the announcement of the European Commission’s proposal that Cyprus will be among 10 countries to join the EU in the next wave of members. At the same time, it did not give Turkey a date for the start of its own accession talks. Oddly enough, Greece found itself championing Turkey’s bid for a starting date at the same time that the Commission was brushing off criticism from the United States regarding the snub to Turkey. «It is obvious that the United States is not a member of the European Union… and therefore plays no role in the Union’s decisions on enlargement or any other issue,» said Commission spokesman Jonathan Faull. On Wednesday, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, «Because we’re not a member, we have no formal role in determining the European Union’s relations with third countries. We’ve long believed, however, that Turkey’s future is in Europe; it’s in the strategic interest of the United States and the EU, of Turkey and the EU, that Turkey and the EU build the closest possible relationship.» Turkey, meanwhile, continued to warn the EU against admitting Cyprus. «The division of the island will be finalized by Europe itself. It will be permanent and there will be no room for a political solution,» Turkish Foreign Minister Sukru Sina Gurel told the AFP. Turkey’s Milliyet newspaper, though, said Gurel’s reaction was muted because he had been taken by surprise by a telephone call by his Greek counterpart, George Papandreou, on Wednesday. «Mr Papandreou said that for us it is very important that Turkey’s road remains open at the European Council in Copenhagen where decisions will be taken regarding all candidate countries, including Turkey,» Foreign Ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said.