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Financial Times (London) November 13, 2002,
2002-11-13 11:11:51

HEADLINE:Erdogan invests EU hopes in Cyprus deal
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the leader of the victorious Justice and Development party (AKP) in Turkey's general elections, yesterday admitted that a peace agreement in Cyprus would accelerate his country's chances of joining the European Union.

On the day after the United Nations produced a new plan to end the decades-old conflict on the island, Mr Erdogan expressed his hopes of making progress towards a settlement.

"No matter how much we say it's not related, they're not linked, solving the Cyprus issue would not just accelerate the EU process, but also be a concrete and useful step to overcoming many problems between Turkey and Greece," Mr Erdogan said before embarking on a tour of EU capitals. He begins with a visit to Rome today and will be in Athens next week, to press Turkey's case for a date to start membership talks.

The new UN plan proposes a loose Swiss-style confederation of two "component states" in Cyprus, joined as a "common state". It would be headed by a rotating presidency, a two-chamber parliament with special voting safeguards for the Turkish Cypriot community and a supreme court where a third of the judges would be non- Cypriots. The plan says Cyprus will be "an independent state in the form of an indissoluble partnership".

The draft compromise, which seeks to marry the priorities of Greek and Turkish Cypriots, was presented to leaders of both sides, and Greece and Turkey, on Monday. It proposes a single Cypriot citizenship, alongside a "component state" citizenship, and rotating the posts of president and vice-president every 10 months.

The plan does not give Greek Cypriots a strong central state. Nor does it grant their Turkish counterparts recognition of the sovereignty of their republic before it becomes part of any future entity.

The initiative by Kofi Annan, UN secretary-general, comes one month before EU leaders meet in Copenhagen to decide whether to admit Cyprus as a new member state. Diplomats hope that will provide an effective deadline at least to reach outline agreement, to avoid a divided Cyprus becoming an EU member state.

Such an outcome could poison relations between the EU and Turkey. "There is now a window of opportunity for Cyprus," said Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, expected in Ankara tomorrow.

Financial Times (London) November 13, 2002,
HEADLINE: Cypriots together: EU membership is catalyst and carrot for peace process

The United Nations has produced a Cyprus peace plan that presents the best opportunity of bringing the Mediterranean island's Greek and Turkish communities together since 1974 when they split apart. This is not just because it cleverly finesses some of the sticking points that have bedevilled past negotiations. It is also because of the constructive approach taken now by both of Cyprus's "parent" states, Greece and Turkey, and of the time pressure for a settlement before the European Union decides next month on Cypriot membership. The EU dimension makes this a case of double or splits. If the UN plan can be the basis for an early outline deal on re-unification, then the accession terms already negotiated by the Greek Cypriots can be extended to take Turkish Cypriots into the EU. This in turn would improve Turkey's relations with the EU. But if the UN plan fails, Greek Cyprus will enter the EU alone, leaving Turkey and Turkish Cypriots embittered and the island's communal split deeper than ever.

For the past 28 years, Greek and Turkish Cypriots have lived in near- total isolation from each other. Barbed wire and UN peacekeepers separate the Greek state of Cyprus in the south from the internationally unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). It is therefore not surprising that the UN is only proposing a loose Swiss-style confederation of these two "component states" into a "common state". It would be headed by a rotating presidency, a two-chamber parliament with special voting safeguards for minorities and a supreme court where a third of the judges would be non-Cypriots.

The looseness of this structure will not please the Greek Cypriots who had wanted a stronger centre uniting the two ethnic regions. Nor, however, does it recognise the sovereignty of the "component states" in the explicit way that the Turkish Cypriots wanted. Instead, it declares valid all past decisions. This is especially important to the Turkish Cypriots, whose TRNC never won recognition except by Ankara. Left vague are the many issues involved in unwinding the events of 1974 which left the Turkish Cypriot fifth of the population holding around a third of the island's territory.

These will be hard to negotiate. But there is considerable outside pressure on the two old protagonists, Glafcos Clerides and Rauf Denktash, respectively leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, to settle. Turkey's new leaders are refreshingly free of the Cyprus baggage that their political opponents carried. Greece, too, has a prime minister and foreign minister who realise the role of Cyprus in a rapprochment with Turkey. The US has been pressing on Ankara and Athens the danger of letting the new chance for a Cyprus settlement slip.

The EU also has cards it must play with skill. It must continue to make clear that, while the accession of Greek Cyprus alone is possible, it would be a poor second to the whole island's entry into the Union.

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