NEWS

UN plan next week?

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to present his plan for a solution to the Cyprus problem next week, diplomatic sources in Athens said yesterday. But for the first time, Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides said yesterday that he would prefer the proposal to be made after presidential elections in Cyprus in February, so that it can be discussed in a more relaxed climate, the Athens News Agency reported from Nicosia. Annan’s proposal has been widely expected to come between Turkey’s national elections of last Sunday and the EU’s Copenhagen summit on December 12-13, which is expected to decide on the accession of Cyprus and nine other candidates. Annan’s holding of his proposal until next week is seen in Athens as an attempt to protect it from reactions as a government has not yet been formed in Ankara. Foreign Minister George Papandreou telephoned Annan yesterday and urged him to keep his proposal in line with UN resolutions on the Cyprus issue. In Ankara, officials continued to stress that the Cyprus issue would not be handled by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the leader of the Justice and Development Party (AK) who won last Sunday’s elections. Erdogan rattled the establishment on Monday when he said a solution could be based on the «Belgian model.» The Cyprus issue, President Ahmet Necdet Sezer’s spokesman Taacan Ildem told reporters, is a «state issue.» He added: «From the statements of the leader and cadres of the AK party we understand that they know this.» Erdogan is to visit the Turkish-occupied part of northern Cyprus on November 15 and will then visit Athens on November 18. Yesterday he repeated the Turkish line that «there are two sovereign, independent states» on Cyprus. Cyprus reacted angrily to Erdogan’s planned visit to the north. «It’s a shame a political leader who professes to represent change and honor should begin his international obligations with such a blatantly illegal act,» said government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou. «It’s deeply depressing to once again have it confirmed that the military establishment in Turkey is very powerful and cannot be brought to heel.» As if to underscore this, 18 Turkish fighter planes violated Greek airspace in six cases yesterday. Two F-16s buzzed (coming within 5 miles of them) Olympic Airways Flight 332, from Larnaca to Athens, and Cyprus Airways Flight 323, from Athens to Larnaca, near Rhodes.