NEWS

UN’s Cyprus plan unveiled today

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to present his much-awaited proposal for a solution to the Cyprus problem today. It will be handed over to Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and the guarantor powers of Cyprus – Greece, Turkey and Britain – before Annan presents the members of the Security Council with a summary. Twenty-eight years after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, today is seen as an historic moment – one that has also created feelings of trepidation in Athens, Ankara and Nicosia. All expect to be forced to make compromises but none know how much will be demanded of them. «This is an historic moment, a moment for which one Greek government after the other has worked, wanting substantial activity and initiative from the United Nations,» Foreign Minister George Papandreou told reporters after a three-hour meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and other officials last night. «We do not have specific knowledge of the plan,» he said. «We can guess, but I think it will be better if we wait,» he said. In Ankara, the leader of the newly elected opposition, Deniz Baykal, said that Denktash had told him in a telephone call from New York that he was afraid the plan contained «unacceptable elements» for the Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot side. Cyprus’s parliament speaker, Dimitris Christofias, expressed fear that the proposal could be on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. Simitis and Papandreou, however, who toured several European capitals in the past two weeks, have made clear they consider the Annan plan the basis for further negotiations. Greece also insists that the solution be on the basis of UN resolutions and the principles that apply in the European Union. The EU summit in Copenhagen on December 12 is to decide whether Cyprus and nine other candidates will be joining the union as early as 2004. Papandreou said that he had discussed the issue with Cypriot political leaders by telephone yesterday. He is scheduled to brief parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis and other officials in Athens today. He will also be meeting with Simitis again this morning. The plan is expected to be released at 5 p.m. Cyprus time. «Our target remains that a solution should be found on the basis of UN resolutions and, of course, on the very important fact that Cyprus will become a member of the EU very soon,» Papandreou said. «For us, Cyprus’s accession is non-negotiable for the EU’s enlargement, which will be decided on December 12. At the same time, it would be wonderful if a solution could be found and we must all work toward this. But if it is not, the negotiations will have to continue immediately afterward, so that a solution to the Cyprus issue can be found as quickly as possible,» he added. Papandreou said that Annan himself had assured him that he could not propose a solution that would not be on the basis of UN resolutions. Meanwhile, on Saturday, Cyprus’s state broadcaster RIK revealed what it said were basic parameters of the solution. Among these is a choice of three alternatives for executive power: the Belgian model, with a revolving presidency and revolving prime ministry; the Swiss model with six Greek-Cypriot ministers and three Turkish-Cypriot ones, or three Greek- and two Turkish-Cypriot ones, with a majority vote needing at least one Turkish vote; the «Zurich system» with an executive president and a vice president with veto power. Erdogan holds off island visit The leader of the party that won Turkey’s elections last week, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has canceled a visit to northern Cyprus this week because Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash remains ill in New York, a spokesman for the Justice and Development party said on Saturday. Denktash, who underwent heart surgery in New York, was to return on Wednesday and Erdogan was to visit on Friday, but it is now believed that Denktash will return at the end of next week. Also, Erdogan’s first visit abroad will not be to Athens, as was initially reported. He will still visit on November 18, but after visiting Rome this Wednesday, party spokesman Yasar Yakis said. Meanwhile, Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, Turkey’s top general, said in Ankara yesterday that in his weeklong visit to the United States he had argued against Cyprus’s accession to the EU. «By revealing that Cyprus is indispensable for Turkey’s security, I expressed my belief that Cyprus’s entrance to the EU at the same time as Turkey would bring a solution to many probable crises,» the Anatolia news agency quoted him saying.