‘Decoding’ Cyprus

The visit of US Secretary of State Colin Powell to Athens and the meetings he is due to have on Sunday with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis have probably been motivated by a rather unorthodox aim – to decipher the intentions of Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos (whom Washington is not so fond of, due to his rebuff of the Annan plan which prompted its rejection by more than 75 percent of Greek Cypriots). According to diplomatic sources, there are two matters that the Americans want to clarify: Firstly, whether Nicosia is genuinely interested in restarting talks based on the Annan plan and which amendments they are considering. And whether the plan would still be viable following its rejection by one of Cyprus’s two communities. However, irrespective of the intentions of foreign mediators, Papadopoulos has in mind some radical changes for the plan to ensure that it is workable and conforms to European Union regulations. The second, and most significant, issue for Washington is Nicosia’s stance opposite the European Council, which in December is due to announce whether Turkey’s appeal for a date to start EU accession talks has been accepted. Many EU member states are reluctant to accept Turkey within the ranks of the EU for various reasons, including economic stability and religious identity. In view of this, the USA remains extremely concerned about a possible veto by Nicosia…

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