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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Annan plan bickering dampens hopes for talks ]

Annan plan bickering dampens hopes for talks


THE optimism that new Cyprus talks would get off to a flying start lost some of its shine yesterday when statements by both sides indicated the road to rapid progress could stumble over the corpse of the Annan plan.

The euphoria that followed the election of a new president on the Greek Cypriot side began to fade when the Turkish Cypriots started raising the specter of the failed UN blueprint.

This was followed by total rejection of the plan as a basis for negotiation by the Greek Cypriot side.

With only a week or so to go before the two leaders are to meet face to face, Government Spokesman Stefanos Stefanou yesterday expressed regret over “the stance of the Turkish and the Turkish Cypriot side”.

He said the positions of the Turkish side were contrary to expectations for the resumption of negotiations on the basis of the July 8, 2006 agreement.

Stefanou said the Turkish Cypriot side’s continued references to two peoples and two states were not optimistic and undermined the efforts to create the appropriate political climate for the meeting between the two leaders.

The meeting is due to take place between March 17 and 24, but the exact date has not yet been fixed.

“We expect the meeting of the President with Mr Talat to clarify our positions,” said Stefanou. “The President of the Republic will go to his meeting with Talat with good will and be ready to work hard.”

But he made it clear the Greek Cypriot side had no intention of “going back to unacceptable situations” that were rejected by the people.

In the north, Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat said a comprehensive solution could be found to the Cyprus problem by the end of 2008 if the Annan plan, “which was a huge body of work”, was taken as a basis for a solution.

“We have been ready for a solution since 2004. Our unchanged position is to solve the Cyprus problem in a comprehensive way,” Talat said.

Asked whether the Annan plan and the July 8 agreement would be on the table once the talks between the two leaders start, Talat said they were not mutually exclusive.

“The Annan plan was a comprehensive settlement plan prepared at the end of years long negotiations, while the July 8 process was just an agreement on procedure,” he said, adding that former President Tassos Papadopoulos had used the agreement as a delaying tactic.

Stratfor Strategic Forecasting, in a new analysis on Cyprus, said yesterday prospects for reunification were the brightest that they have been since the Annan plan was rejected n 2004.

“But that does not mean the future is bright. There are too many involved interests who hold a veto over an underlying process that has little to do with Cyprus itself,” it said.

Stratfor said while talk and optimism were “all the rage in Turkey, Greece and Cyprus these days”, the likelihood of any movement on the core issue was small due to Cyprus’ EU membership.

“Greek Cypriots have no reason to compromise on any particular point in negotiations. They hold all the cards and they know it. Christofias may be more willing to talk about reunification than Papadopoulos was, but that hardly means he is itching to make concessions he does not have to make,” the report added.

“Turkey would like to see Cypriot reunification because any deal would involve injecting Turks into the Cypriot government at some level, transforming Turkey’s most implacable foe in the European Union into a partial advocate.”

Stratfor said Turkey’s bottom line was that it would pressure the Turkish Cypriots into submitting to the Greek Cypriots, but only in exchange for something worth its while from the EU.

“As Turkey’s thinking goes, if the Europeans want help on Cyprus, they’re going to have to belly up to the bar,” it concluded, but with France and Germany opposed to Turkey’s accession this was not likely to transpire.

“The prospects of serious talks on Cypriot reunification may be bright, but the chances of success remain dim,” it said.


(Source: Cyprus Mail)





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