Anxiety over UN plan

For 28 years, Greece has exhausted all means in asking the United Nations and the great powers to seriously tackle the Cyprus question. The international community has finally mobilized and the UN proposal, which was drawn up mainly by British diplomat David Hannay with input from US officials, will be presented today and is expected to create serious concern in both Nicosia and Athens. As regards the island’s future constitution, the UN plan will, no doubt, be filled with «creative ambiguity.» In his meetings with Greek officials in recent months, Hannay said there is no reason to officially clarify whether the solution is federal or confederal, despite the huge difference that such a distinction entails in terms of sovereignty. Greece has placed disproportionate responsibility on Nicosia and on Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides personally, with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his aides promoting the positive dimension of Cyprus’s EU membership, and only recently underscoring that the new solution will be a new compromise. In Nicosia, Clerides’s close aide Pantelis Kouros broke his long silence and said that Cyprus will not accept any solution merely for the sake of EU membership while Parliament Speaker Dimitris Christofias, a moderate, said he foresaw a «painful solution.» Finally, Clerides said that he would prefer the proposal to be made after presidential elections in Cyprus in February, suggesting that he will not agree to his term being prolonged until a solution is found, while the UN proposal today inevitably puts the Cyprus issue squarely on the electoral agenda. Britain, Germany and France all insist on a solution before the EU summit, thus linking the issue to the island’s accession. If this is not a precondition for negotiations, Greece will have to decide whether it is prepared to veto the EU’s expansion, as it has warned it would do in the past.

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