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Media Watch 2004

17 February 2004
Source: Guardian
Comment: The following article appeared in the Guardian of London on 17 February 2004.
Success is anything but guaranteed'
"The compromise reached ... signals a clear retreat by the Greek side..."

Agreement is reached in New York, but anxieties remain

Sunday Mail
Editorial, Cyprus, February 15

"In theory, it should be a problem-free ride after Tassos Papadopoulos [the Greek Cypriot president] and Rauf Denktash [the Turkish Cypriot leader] agreed on Friday to the procedure proposed by Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, that will lead to referendums [on April 21] for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem ... But if the past week in New York is an indication of what lies ahead, the success of the procedure is anything but guaranteed ...
"What had been intended as a brief ceremonial meeting ... dragged on for four days ... It was certainly not a demonstration of the political will and resolve from politicians committed to reaching a settlement before [Greek Cyprus's EU accession in] May ... Perhaps Mr Annan has a strategy for selling his plan, because relying on Mr Denktash and Mr Papadopoulos to sell it would be a monumental miscalculation. This issue needs a great deal of thought because it would be a calamity to arrive at the final destination - the referendums - only for one of the two communities to return a no-vote."

Costas Iordanidis
Kathimerini, Greece, February 16

"The compromise reached ... signals a clear retreat by the Greek side. Tempted by a vague reference to the EU, it agreed to participate in negotiations, along with Turkey, and commissioned Mr Annan to 'fill in the blanks' in a deal on the reunification of Cyprus ... Worse is the fact that Mr Annan accepted the Turkish proposal for a meeting involving Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots and ... Greece and Turkey.
"Since 1974, when Turkey invaded the island, successive Greek governments had characterised the Cyprus problem as an international issue ... [Now] Greece will ... have to negotiate essential issues and under severe pressure. Moreover, if no full agreement is reached, then the final additions will be made by the secretary general - a blow to the autonomous status of the Republic of Cyprus."

Tufan Turenc
Hurriyet, Turkey, February 16

"Instead of cheering for a hollow victory, we should think of what still needs to be done ... Turkey gave up on most of the conditions it stipulated before. We face a very difficult negotiating process. The important thing is to stand firm against the Greek Cypriot administration and make it accept amendments that will guarantee the continuation of the Turkish presence on the island. We should discuss the negative elements of Mr Annan's plan in terms of the security of the Turkish Cypriots and the Turkish people. We should make them accept our objections concerning sovereignty, guarantorship, ownership, the sharing of territory and the number of Greek Cypriots to be settled on the island ...
"We should boost our efforts to solve the problems with Greece without waiting for the EU's insistence. The west will place some obstacles before us, so we should be ready for this. Otherwise all our efforts for EU membership might be in vain."

Murat Yetkin
Radikal, Turkey, February 15

"[The Turkish] prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was correct in saying [on Saturday] that it is 'too early' to make assessments of 'success on Cyprus' ... But neither the international situation nor the stage reached in the domestic political balance seems conducive to either Mr Denktash or ... Mr Papadopoulos walking away from the negotiations very easily. They are aware that, from now on, the side that leaves the table, other than for clear situations that would be seen as justified by the international community, will lose its legitimacy by being stamped 'unwilling to compromise'.""