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Media Watch 2003

15 May 2003
Source: Phileleftheros
Comment: The following article appeared Phileleftheros of Nicosia on 15 May 2003.
EU’s direct involvement in the settlement

The Cyprus issue constitutes top priority for Brussels
- More decisive initiatives are undertaken
- Excessive lobbying on many levels

The European Union enjoys a far greater role and call on the Cyprus issue following the signing of Cyprus’ Accession Treaty in EU on April 16th in Athens. EU’s involvement does not substitute the United Nations, however, as it is noted by well-informed sources, an effort is made, mainly by the European Commission, so that there will be an agreement prior to May 1st 2004, when Cyprus will fully join the EU. Also, as Nicosia has stated, there is interest for the content of the settlement and primarily for the issues of operation, which can affect Cyprus’ effective participation in the European organs.

The Foreign Minister, Georgios Iakovou will meet with the EU Enlargement Commissioner, Gunter Verhoigen the following Monday in Brussels. The meeting is to take place in the margins of the General Affairs Council, in which Cyprus – as well as other new Member States – will participate for the first time. Mr. Verhoigen will be present at the meeting of President Papadopoulos with the President of the European Council, Costas Simitis on May 26th in Athens. Also, the President is likely to have bilateral meetings with Heads of EU Member States in the margin of the EU’s “25” meeting with Russia in Saint Petersburg. All these contacts as well as those on lower level, confirm EU’s increasing involvement in the Cyprus issue, and also the new role that Brussels attempt to play. As it was stressed by informed diplomatic sources in Nicosia, the focus is whether Europeans adopt Nicosia’s position for amendments in the Annan plan. EU continues to believe that the Secretary-General’s plan remains on the negotiation table, they appraise that it is in need of alterations, however, it is not clear whether they are in favour of a series of amendments.

Nicosia and Athens have discussed the above in a meeting of delegations by both governments last Saturday in Cyprus. In the meeting, they discussed tactic issues, but the political decisions will be reached by President Papadopoulos and Costas Simitis on May 26th. It is evident that Nicosia relies on the list of amendments that President Papadopoulos put forward in his letter to Kofi Annan on February 28th 2003, as well as to a smaller list he presented in the meetings at The Hague (March 10th).

Lord Hanney in his interview to the state TV channel said that the interested parties were bound to return to the negotiation table and to the Annan plan. The British Envoy said that Denktash could say a hundred times that the Anan plan was ‘dead’ and that it would be forgotten. The Security Council stated that the plan constituted the sole framework for a settlement. D. Hanney appraised that President Papadopoulos would tell Kofi Annan at the right time that he was ready for negotiations and for a fixed timetable for the referendum. Alternatively, he warned that Greek-Cypriots would be open to other proposals that would not be beneficial for their side. In the meantime, the Government Spokesman, Kypros Chrisostomides stated yesterday that EU was interested in promoting the settlement of the Cyprus issue and reminded Mr. Verhoigen’s recent statements, who had said that the matter of restarting the negotiations on the Cyprus issue lay with UNO."