- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 6, 2002

NICOSIA, Cyprus Turkey's new government with Islamist roots is causing concern in Greek Cyprus over long-standing Turkish threats to annex the northern part of the island.

But diplomats say Ankara's view of the divided island is unlikely to change anytime soon.

The United Nations intends to table a new peace proposal, possibly this week and well ahead of December's European Union summit, which is expected to invite Cyprus to join the EU club by 2004.

The EU invitation is expected to apply, with or without a solution to the island's division into an internationally recognized Greek south and a breakaway Turkish republic in the north.

So far, the Turkish side has refused to join the Greek Cypriots in negotiations with the EU.

Anxiety has grown among Greek Cypriots that the much-debated U.N. plan for a solution on the East Mediterranean island incorporates all key demands of the Turkish side.

These include, according to diplomatic sources, a sanctioning of two "constituent states," one Turkish Cypriot and one Greek Cypriot, a weak central government and bicameral legislature.

Apparently strong accent has been put on equality between the Greek majority and Turkish minority a long-standing Turkish demand.

Peace on the feuding island would be overseen by small Greek and Turkish mainland contingents as well as an international force.

Turkey has threatened to annex northern Cyprus, where it keeps an estimated 35,000 troops, if the EU admits the island before a solution is reached.

In one of his last statements as Turkey's outgoing foreign minister, Sukru Sina Gurel said, "Turkey will not negotiate on any document presented by the U.N. on the Cyprus issue."

Nothing has been disclosed so far about U.N. plans for the freedom of movement between the two zones, settlement of properties or compensation to refugees of both ethnic groups, or possible territorial concessions by the Turkish side, controlling 37 percent of Cypriot territory.

The partial disclosures of the reported plan have prompted some Greek Cypriot politicians to accuse the United Nations of favoring Turkey and its client state in the north of Cyprus, the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

Of considerable significance was a statement by Tassos Papadopoulos, a candidate for Greek Cypriot presidency known for his anti-Turkish views, who said "whatever solution is reached will be bitter for the Greek side."

And Greek Cypriot President Glafkos Clerides said his government would not agree to "unacceptable concessions to secure our accession" to the European Union.

Wrote the English-language Cyprus Mail:

"There can be no doubt that some of the U.N. proposals will be unpalatable to us, but this is inevitable when you have to compromise from a position of weakness. It did not help that for years our politicians have followed a policy of wishful thinking."

At the same time the Greek side stressed the "positive aspect" demonstrated by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, leader of Turkey's Justice and Development Party, which won Sunday's Turkish elections.

Mr. Erdogan, whose party now commands an overwhelming majority in the Turkish parliament, said he would travel to Greece shortly to pave the way for better relations.

Greek Foreign Minister Andreas Papandreou predicted a period of improved relations between the traditional enemies. There was no mention of Cyprus in any immediate post-electoral Turkish statements.


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