NEWS

PM seeks consensus on Cyprus

Hoping to secure all-party backing for his government’s policy on Cyprus ahead of the crucial mid-December European Union summit meeting in Copenhagen, Prime Minister Costas Simitis is to hold a series of meetings with opposition party leaders today. Yesterday, reports in Athens said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is to present proposals in November for a solution to the 28-year-old Cyprus problem that will call for the creation of a federal state on the island comprising two separate entities with common legal and international representation. Greek government sources indicated that this would be unacceptable to both Athens and Nicosia. In his meetings with New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis, Communist Party Secretary-General Aleka Papariga, and Left Coalition (Synaspismos) Chairman Nikos Constantopoulos, Simitis will express his satisfaction with the latest developments regarding Cyprus’s EU accession. European leaders meeting in Brussels last week reaffirmed their intention to let Cyprus join the 15-member block in the forthcoming wave of new members – while at the same time declining to set a date for the initiation of accession talks with Turkey, another aspirant. But sources said Simitis is increasingly worried that the proposals on a Cyprus reunification deal expected to be tabled by Annan in mid-November could either fall outside the framework of previous UN resolutions on Cyprus, or provide for a Bosnian-type federation with a central government so weak as to preclude efficient decision-making. The PM alluded to such an eventuality on Monday, when, speaking to journalists after a meeting in London with British PM Tony Blair, he warned that «this is a period of pressure for the Greek-Cypriot side which is trying to secure accession, and some people may think that this is the chance to advance certain issues which under other circumstances the Greek-Cypriot side and Greece might not have accepted.» Government sources say that if Athens and Nicosia reject Annan’s proposals, some EU members might take the opportunity to call for postponement of Cyprus’s accession.