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Kasoulides says Annan plan can be improved
2002-12-16 13:11:46

Nicosia, Dec 16 (CNA) - Minister of Foreign Affairs Ioannis Kasoulides said here today that the plan, submitted by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for a Cyprus settlement, could be improved for the benefit of both communities.

In statements to the press, Kasoulides said that negotiations could continue with the other side, adding that ''this negotiation should lead to a conclusion, and the conclusion will be the product of free negotiation between the two sides, without abolishing the philosophy of the plan''.

At the same time, he added, ''we should make the best possible choice so that a solution can function and Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can feel it is the solution of their choice''.|

Kasoulides further said he expects tonight an update from Cyprus' Permanent Representative at the UN, Ambassador Sotos Zackheos, on the initial intentions of the Security Council after it will be informed by the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto on the latest Cyprus developments.

The Minister said the government received assurances by the Copenhagen European Council that the number of Turkish settlers who will remain in Cyprus after a solution will be reduced, noting that ''the assurances we have received make the issue less unpleasant''.

Referring to the package of measures for Turkish Cypriots, which the government has said it will announce, Kasoulides said it was already decided a long time ago.

''The decision to proceed with a series of measures, after receiving a positive decision for the island's accession to the EU, was taken a long time ago'', he said, adding that his Ministry has been working on the measures for over a year now.

Regarding the Turkish Cypriots' uprising against the policy of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, Kasoulides said ''I think the Cyprus problem will be a lot different than what we have known it to be if Mr. Denktash has really started losing the support he had from Ankara, and our Turkish Cypriot compatriots rebel against the policy that drives them only into isolation''.

The Minister said he was certain ''the Greek Cypriot side would respond to the call and work for a united Cyprus that will belong to all Cypriots''.

Kasoulides said the Greek Cypriot side still considers Denktash the representative of the Turkish Cypriot side but the question is whether the Turkish Cypriot community still wants to be represented by him.

He also referred to the new political leadership in Turkey, which was ''democratically elected by the Turkish people'', adding that ''since its aim is for Turkey to accede to the EU, it should therefore act to end the Cyprus problem''.

European Union leaders, in the conclusions of the Copenhagen European Council, said that as accession negotiations have been completed with Cyprus, the island would be admitted as a new EU member state.

However, the Council confirmed its strong preference for accession to the European Union by a united Cyprus and welcomed the commitment of the two sides on the island to continue to negotiate to reach a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem by 28 February 2003 on the basis of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's proposals.

Annan put forward a revised peace plan last month aimed at reaching a comprehensive settlement to the protracted Cyprus problem.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.


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