Countdown Begins for Cyprus Reunification Deal | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 30.03.2004
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Countdown Begins for Cyprus Reunification Deal

U.N. Secretary-General Annan has presented Greek and Turkish Cypriots with a revised blueprint for a future united Cyprus. The parties have until March 31 to agree to the plan, which has sparked mixed feelings.


Greek and Turkish Cypriots marched under the Cyprus flag proposed by the U.N. on Monday.

Kofi Annan said he believed the peace plan would allow both sides to win as he handed over the 9,000-page document to the parties meeting in the Swiss resort of Bürgenstock. The plan reworked by the U.N. Secretary General and which is meant to allow a united Cyprus to join the European Union on May 1, comes after six days of talks with Greek and Turkish Cypriot negotiators.

But the Greek side reacted to the plan with dismay. "He gave us a sandwich and a cup of coffee. Them (the Turkish delegation) he gave a five-course meal with champagne," a representative from the Greek Cypriot delegation told AP. The Turkish delegation, however, appeared pleased with the plan, some details of which have been leaked to the press.

The plan is said to call for a republic led by a federal senate made up of six Greek Cypriots and three Turkish Cypriots. Elections to the body could take place as early as June.

Greek Cypriot returnees restricted

Zypern Grenzübergang

Turkish Cypriots will continue to rule the northern part of the island, even after Greek Cypriots return. Fewer Greek refugees -- 18 percent of the Turkish-Cypriot population rather than 21 percent -- will be allowed to return to their homes on the Turkish part of the island. The north will only be opened up to Greek Cypriots once the Turkish Cypriot per capita income more than triples, to 85 percent of the Greek Cypriot level.

Despite Greek Cypriot objections, Turkish soldiers will be permitted to remain stationed on Cyprus indefinitely, though their numbers will be limited to 650 if Turkey joins the EU. The Turkish Cypriot side had repeatedly expressed concern that the Turkish minority would be overwhelmed by the Greek Cypriots.

The plan reportedly does not respond to Greek Cypriot insistence that Turkish settlers who moved to Cyprus after 1974 be forced to leave. Instead 45,000 of them would be granted Cypriot citizenship, while the remainder would be allowed to continue living on the island.

The Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded the north in the wake of a Greek Cypriot coup that was backed by Greece.

Deadline looms

Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogen, whose governments serve as guarantors to the negotiations, and their foreign ministers were also present for the talks in Bürgenstock on Tuesday. The two leaders are said to be anxious for a successful end to the negotiations.

Kofi Annan

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan

Annan's strict schedule for the Cyprus talks gives the two sides until Tuesday morning to respond to the suggestions, which include over 130 proposals for new laws in a united Cyprus, and requires them to complete talks on Wednesday.

Annan is to meet separately with the Greek and Turkish
Cypriot delegations later on Tuesday to hear their views.

If no agreement is reached by Wednesday, Annan will submit his own suggestion. In any case, referenda on the topic will be held on both parts of the island on April 20. If either side rejects the proposal, unification will be put on ice. The Greek Cypriot part of the island will then join the European Union alone, and Turkey will face a setback to its own efforts to accede to the EU.

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