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Annan voices optimism Cyprus deal can be finalized next week

Annan voices optimism Cyprus deal can be finalized next week

Kofi Annan
Less than a week before he is to meet with the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders in The Hague, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today voiced optimism that a solution can be found to enable a united Cyprus to join the European Union later this year.

"I think this is a unique opportunity for the people of the island, and all that we are asking the leaders to do is to come to The Hague and confirm to us that they are prepared to put the basic agreement to referenda and to let the people decide," the Secretary-General told reporters. He had just given a closed-door briefing to the Security Council on his trip last week to the region, during which he met with the leaders of Greece and Turkey, as well as the new Greek Cypriot leader, Tassos Papadopoulos, the outgoing Greek Cypriot leader Glafcos Clerides, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, in a bid to get the parties to reach agreement on a settlement plan by the end of February.

"I hope that when we meet in The Hague they will come prepared, as I have suggested to them, that they undertake all the internal consultations in the meantime and come ready to give me a definitive answer," he added.

Divulging some elements of his settlement proposal, the Secretary-General said that the plans includes a new name for "a new Cyprus Republic, which will be a federation made up of two constituent states, a Greek Cypriot state and the Turkish Cypriot state." The plan also contains some suggestions for security arrangements between Greece and Turkey.

Asked about the possibility of a negative response to his revised plan, the Secretary-General said, "Then of course, we cannot move forward." It would mean that a united Cyprus will not be able to join the European Union on 16 April, when the Treaty of Accession will be signed.

"The deadlines we have set are real and genuine, it's not artificial," he stressed. "If they do not have the referenda on 30 March, I don't see how they can get into the EU" on 16 April.