NEWS

Anxiety over Cyprus plan

With the Turkish national elections scheduled for Sunday and the EU summit of mid-December expected to conclude Cyprus’s EU accession, both Athens and Ankara have begun to worry about the peace plan that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to unveil. Speaking to his Cabinet yesterday, PM Costas Simitis expressed the hope that Annan will present his plan before the Copenhagen summit – revealing a fear that if this is not done it might complicate Cyprus’s accession. Simitis added that the plan must «be examined on the basis of the possibility of its creating problems with regard to the acquis communautaire.» Athens and Nicosia seem to fear Annan’s proposal might include features that would dilute the benefits of Cyprus’s EU membership. But apprehension on the other side of the Aegean is just as great. The UN «must not intervene in a way that will exceed the parameters of its good services in the Cyprus issue,» Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Yusuf Buluc said. Foreign Minister Sukru Sina Gurel said after talks with UN envoy Alvaro de Soto that «Turkey will not negotiate on any document presented by the UN on the Cyprus issue.» In Athens, New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis stressed that a solution had to be in keeping with EU principles and UN resolutions. Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, in a visit to Istanbul, said: «Cyprus’s EU accession is not a hostile act toward Turkey. It is a significant event which will help the Turkish community and Turkey in its progress toward Europe.» His Turkish counterpart, Erdogan Toprak, responded: «Accession concerns only the Greek sector and not northern Cyprus. I believe the Turkish sector will join one day. But let’s not talk about this.»