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Media Watch 2004

20 February 2004
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author: Annie Charalambous
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 20 February 2004.
Doubts among Papadopoulos's own party
"...the veneer of cross-party support for President Papadopoulos is showing some cracks..."

NEW Horizons may be the only party to have come out openly against the Annan Plan and the procedure to be followed in this fresh round of talks, but the veneer of cross-party support for President Papadopoulos is showing some cracks.

Even his own party, Diko, made clear yesterday they will say No to the UN blueprint if it is not improved “substantially” to become both “functional and viable.”
“Nothing has been decided and nothing is over yet,” Diko said in a statement after a long meeting of the central committee.

“A new round of negotiations begins, within choking timetables and not under the best conditions, and at the end of it we will decide whether to take the path towards the desirable solution or not,” it added.

In favour
Of the Akel-Diko-Edek main coalition parties that supported Papadopoulos in last year’s general elections, communist Akel is the only one that has given united and strong backing to the President.

Funny enough, it joins forces with opposition Disy and the United Democrats who are all in favour of a solution whether the proposed amendments to the UN blueprint are achieved or not.

The main “behind-the-scenes” protagonist, Akel leader and House President Demetris Christofias said on Wednesday: “This new round of talks is a good, very good and unique opportunity to solve this long-lasting problem.”

“President Papadopoulos goes to the dialogue feeling strengthened by the support given by the majority of National Council members and believes he will succeed in making the sought amendments,” he added.

But Christofias also voiced reservations concerning Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who insists on tabling proposals to change the substance of the UN plan in order to hinder the procedure.

Socialist Edek seems to have a real split within, as honorary leader Vassos Lyssarides has harshly criticised Papadopoulos’s acceptance of the UN conditions, especially that of the Secretary General acting as an arbitrator.

However, Edek leader Yiannakis Omirou who was in New York himself and backed every step taken by Papadopoulos, can only send out messages of cautious optimism.

“We wish for a settlement to be reached as soon as possible. But this will depend on the Turkish side’s position,” he said .

“Unfortunately, latest statements by Turkish officials talking again about the existence of two peoples, out of which springs the sovereignty of the state, undermine directly the negotiating process,” he added.

The small but loud coalition Green party is not only against the Annan Plan’s philosophy but also detests the agreed arbitrator role of the UN and the April referenda.

Nonetheless, it backs the President in the hope that he will achieve substantial amendments to the blueprint and party leader George Perdikis has mellowed his initial criticism against Papadopoulos over the New York developments.

The only one who still insists that Papadopoulos should resign since he failed to carry through decisions taken by the National Council prior to his departure for New York is New Horizons’ leader Nicos Koutsou.

Adik’s Dinos Michaelides joined forces with the parties backing the President but not whole-heartedly.

He warns that if the proposed amendments by the Greek Cypriot side are not approved, he won’t encourage people to cast a “yes” vote at April’s referendum.

The parliamentary party most in favour of the Annan Plan, amended or not, are former President George Vassiliou’s United Democrats who have set up a helpline giving out specific information on the complicated Annan Plan.

Moreover, two non-parliamentary political voices - that of former Attorney General and negotiator Alecos Markides’ Renewal Movement and former Government Spokesman Christos Strylianides’ Political Modernisation Movement - are also wholeheartedly behind the reunification plan.

Greek and Turkish Cypriot youth organisations yesterday reaffirmed their commitment to a “peaceful and united Cyprus based on a federal solution, to accede to the EU on May 1.”

A petition which they handed to a UN official at Nicosia Airport before the resumption of the peace talks, said: The solution must respect the human rights , fundamental freedoms and civil liberties of all Cypriots and observe the principle of political equality of both communities.”"