NEWS

UN presents Cyprus proposal

Twenty-eight years after a Turkish invasion divided Cyprus, and 19 years after Turkish Cypriots unilaterally declared their own state, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday presented Cyprus, Turkish Cypriots, Greece, Turkey and Britain with his proposal for the island’s reunification. The proposal was given to Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides in Nicosia and an aide to Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in New York at 5 p.m. Cyprus time. At the same time, at the United Nations in New York, it was given to the permanent representatives of Greece, Turkey and Britain – the guarantor powers according to the 1960 agreement establishing the Republic of Cyprus. Both Clerides and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis made clear that the proposal had to be seen as a package and that it provided an opportunity for a solution to the Cyprus problem, though both acknowledged that it also presented difficulties. Denktash said he needed time to study it after returning home from New York, where he is recovering from heart surgery. «The plan that was presented covers all aspects of the Cyprus issue,» Clerides told a news conference. «It is clear that it includes conditions that satisfy our positions and others that we do not like and do not satisfy us. But we will judge the plan as a whole. It is on this basis that it will be judged as to whether it serves the interests of the Cypriot people and if it can really open the way for an end to the impasse and the solution of the Cyprus problem. I cannot consider sacrificing the forest for the sake of a tree,» he said. He stressed that the negotiating process was «now entering its most delicate and decisive phase.» Clerides said that Cyprus had worked for a long time for «an honorable compromise.» «At this decisive moment, there is no room for oversimplification or maximalistic approaches,» he said. Clerides said Annan told him that he would like a reply within seven days from yesterday. Clerides is to visit Athens on Saturday to brief party leaders. In Athens, Prime Minister Simitis said, «Today is an especially significant day for Cyprus and the Cypriot people… We have an historic opportunity to find a solution, and everyone must contribute to the unbroken continuation of the negotiations.» He stressed that «a commonly acceptable solution which will come to complement Cyprus’s EU accession will be an achievement of the first rank for our peoples. It will establish Cyprus’s path of prosperity and development in a climate of peace, security and cooperation. It will establish peace, security and cooperation in the whole region, something which is a basic pursuit of Greece,» he said. The Greek side is encouraged that the proposal does not call for a definitive «yes» to the plan before the EU summit in Copenhagen a month from today, in order for Cyprus to be allowed to join the union. Athens and Nicosia are now waiting to see how the Turkish side will react. Denktash said he did not want to be pressed for time as he had to return home to consult. Simitis will brief President Costis Stephanopoulos today. New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis called for a meeting of all the party leaders. «It is self-evident that at this crucial time we will support, with all our strength, the struggle of the Cypriot people,» he said. Plan under wraps till tonight UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s much-awaited plan was not made public by the Cypriot or Greek governments yesterday, owing to Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides’s request to Athens not to brief Greek opposition parties before he presents the proposal to the National Council of political parties in Nicosia this afternoon. This angered Greece’s main opposition party, New Democracy, whose shadow foreign minister, Dora Bakoyianni, declared, «It is inconceivable that the Greek opposition parties are not informed of the contents of such an important proposal.» Diplomatic sources in Athens and Nicosia, however, revealed that among the proposals is that the Turkish-occupied part will be reduced from some 37 percent of the island to 28.5 percent, allowing for the return of 80-85,000 of an estimated 200,000 Greek-Cypriot refugees. Cyprus will have a single sovereignty and international representation. It will be made up of two component parts, with citizenship granted by the central government, sources said. Also, the number of Turkish settlers to be allowed to remain on the island will be subject to negotiation. The Constitutional Court will be made up of three Greek-Cypriot, three Turkish-Cypriot and three foreign judges. A federal police force will patrol the borders. Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash revealed that «some maps have been put forward, and these maps concern our people.»