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BBC- November 12,2002-UN unveils last-ditch Cyprus peace plan
2002-11-12 09:25:18

Kofi Annan wants to see progress made towards peace
The United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has put forward a comprehensive peace plan for Cyprus, just one month before the island is due to finish negotiations on accession to the European Union. The plan envisages the establishment of a government with a rotating presidency, which would preside over the Greek and Turkish parts of the island.

"It's going to be a tough decision that will require courage, wisdom and vision",said Kofi Annan

The island has been divided since Turkish troops occupied the northern third in 1974, in response to a brief Greek Cypriot coup. The 150-page document was handed over simultaneously to the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders of Cyprus, as well as the countries which maintain troops on the island, Greece and Turkey, and former colonial power Britain.

Mr Annan said he had asked the two leaders to reply within a week. "It's going to be a tough decision that will require courage, wisdom and vision, and I am confident they are capable of it," he said.

"I think they realise that we have a limited opportunity as we move forward and there is a unique timing in the sense of getting a united Cyprus into the European Union, and I hope they will seize upon it."

'Sense of responsibility'

Mr. Annan's blueprint is thought to envisage a federal state, partly emulating the Swiss model, with two constituent parts. The plan appears to leave room for diplomatic bargaining only on two major aspects of the Cyprus issue - the problem of refugees whose homes were left behind enemy lines following the Turkish invasion, and the question of how the two communities would share Cyprus's territory.

Greek Cypriot leader Glafcos Clerides called on his compatriots to view the plan as a comprehensive package and not focus on single provisions which may not satisfy their aims.

"We have to face these decisive developments united, with prudence and with a sense of responsibility," he said.

Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said he would view the proposals with a "positive mind".

However, the ill health of Mr Denktash, who is currently in New York recovering from heart surgery, has already raised fears of slippage in the timetable.

The delivery of the UN blueprint follows nearly 11 months of head-to-head talks between Mr Denktash and Mr Clerides, in which no progress was reported.

Early elections in Turkey last month forced the plan to be put back, leaving just 30 days before the key Copenhagen summit on European enlargement.

The peace plan's success or failure will decide whether Cyprus joins the EU as a united or divided island.

Failure would mean that membership would only apply to the southern two-thirds of the island under its internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government.

Key role

In the past, Turkey has threatened to annex the Turkish Cypriot zone if this happens.

BBC diplomatic correspondent Barnaby Mason says Turkey's influence over the Turkish Cypriots will be essential to any settlement, but in return it would want European leaders to set a date for starting negotiations on its own EU membership.

The United States is pressing the EU to admit Turkey, already a member of Nato, in order to consolidate its strategic relationship with the West.

Britain thinks the same way, and both the British and Americans have contributed to the UN Cyprus plan, our correspondent says.

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