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Greek and Turkish Cypriot parties discuss island's future
2004-04-05 13:36:02

Nicosia, Apr 5 (CNA) - Greek and Turkish Cypriot political parties exchanged views on the Annan plan, a UN proposal for a comprehensive settlement, which will be put to separate but simultaneous referenda to the two communities on 24 April, a joint communique said after a joint meeting the parties held today, under the auspices of the Slovakian embassy.

No date has been set for a future meeting. This will be announced at the appropriate time.

In statements after the meeting, AKEL deputy Eleni Mavrou said the atmosphere was "friendly and optimistic because we are reaching the end, the solution to the Cyprus problem", adding that participants examined the future of Cyprus and "not the past and looked into each others' fears".

She said that because some parties had not taken their final decisions on the Annan Plan, they could not have a debate on the substance, noting that her party will decide collectively.

Deputy Democratic Rally leader Averof Neofytou called for unity and wisdom and said that the larger the party, the bigger the responsibilities. "The greatest burden will fall on DISY and AKEL", he added.

Democratic Party Deputy President Nicos Kleanthous said today's meeting was one of the more substantive because "there was courage in exchanging different opinions".

He said the Turkish Cypriot side's sole concern was to rid itself of the current oppressive circumstances it faced without considering the long-term effects.

Socialist Movement EDEK leader Yiannakis Omirou said the meeting was held in a cordial and friendly atmosphere.

He said Cyprus was entering a critical stage for its future and added that the Annan plan must be examined taking into account the viability and functionality of the solution.

Leader of the Turkish Cypriot "Solution and EU" party Ali Erel said the "final version of the Annan plan is just a compromise" and expressed the hope that it would not be rejected.

"It is a good sign that nobody is celebrating about it in the streets," he said, adding that his party had already decided.

He said things would not be easy if the plan was rejected from either side, adding "we have a duty to work for a 'yes' vote".

Erel said he was optimistic that more than 50% of the Turkish Cypriots would endorse the plan, expressing certainty that most Greek Cypriot parties would say "yes rather than no".

He expressed the view that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash does not play an important role anymore. "He lost most of his influence in Cyprus and Turkey", Erel added.

The next meeting would be announced at the appropriate time, Slovak Ambassador Jan Varso announced.

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