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Media Watch 2003

13 May 2003
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Elias Hazou
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 13 May 2003
Papadopolous: Annan plan is outdated

IN HIS first interview since the elections, President Papadopoulos described the Annan plan on Cyprus as outdated, adding that many of its provisions must be revised to adapt to ongoing political developments and the island’s accession to the EU.

Pundits observed that Papadopoulos’ interview -- published in a supplement of Greek newspaper To Vima -- was partly to counter accusations that his government had failed to request the good offices of the UN Secretary-general for the resumption of talks. The President’s response was that Kofi Annan himself informed him he would not undertake any new initiatives on Cyprus unless there were “strong indications that both sides were willing to reach a solution.”

“What the UN Secretary-general means by ‘indications’ is that the plan be accepted as is and unconditionally,” Papadopoulos interpreted.

“And he (Annan) wants a date to be fixed for the carrying out of referenda.”

Despite reiterating that he was ready for dialogue with the Turkish-Cypriot side, Papadopoulos pointed out that the Annan plan was “not exactly unrealistic, but rather outdated in some of its provisions.” He went on to list a number of improvements to the plan.

According to the President, one of the plan’s major drawbacks was the composition of the “Presidential Council,” which comprises four Greek-Cypriot and two Turkish-Cypriot ministers. In Papadopoulos’ view, this form of the executive was not in line with the acquis communautaire.

Papadopoulos was also opposed to the rotating presidency stipulated in the Annan plan, saying former President Glafcos Clerides was also against it.

Other drawbacks were restrictions on human rights, such as freedom of movement, settling in homes and right to property. He also said there were limitations to democratic procedures in the election of parliament.

The last round of talks collapsed in March when the two leaders failed to reach an agreement at The Hague. A visibly disappointed Annan described the impasse as a “missed opportunity,” hinting he would not be undertaking any new initiatives any time soon. Most observers blamed the deadlock on the intransigence of Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

In a recent interview with another Greek newspaper, Denktash reiterated his long-held position on two separate states on the island. The veteran Turkish-Cypriot leader went on to suggest that the Republic of Cyprus be “de-recognised.”

He also claimed that the southern part’s accession to the EU was illegal under past treaties and therefore posed the major obstacle to a political settlement. Denktash warned that accession to the EU would lead to a permanent division of the island."