Unification Looks Unlikely on Cyprus; Denktash Blamed for Hard-Line Stance

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 25, 2003 | Go to article overview

Unification Looks Unlikely on Cyprus; Denktash Blamed for Hard-Line Stance


Byline: Andrew Borowiec, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

NICOSIA, Cyprus - Hope for unification of Cyprus is ebbing, and politicians once again speak of deadlock on the divided Mediterranean island.

Although lifting travel restrictions across the dividing "Green Line" was widely applauded and has helped contacts between the island's Greek and Turkish Cypriots, the political scene has remained paralyzed.

Diplomats say that while the island's inhabitants have moved somewhat closer, their politicians remain firmly apart.

The United States and the European Union blame Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for his refusal to resume negotiations on the basis of a United Nations formula that he torpedoed in March.

However, increasing numbers of foreign envoys and local leaders feel the plan drafted by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan should be modified. The plan calls for a bicommunal confederation accompanied by territorial adjustments and some population transfers between the Greek- and Turkish-speaking zones.

In recent weeks, the tone of official statements by Mr. Denktash has become harsher.

"I think [Mr. Denktash] may be taking a much harder position than I have seen him take in the past. ... I would identify that as a change for the worst," said Thomas Weston, the State Department's coordinator for Cyprus, after meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader last week.

Replied Mr. Denktash: "There is nothing on the table for us which can make me say yes, nothing at all."

The statement is seen by diplomats as precluding resumption of the political dialogue in the foreseeable future, to some degree complicating the accession of Cyprus to the European Union next spring.

Cyprus has been accepted by the European Union as one state, although the so-called "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" (TRNC) has refused to participate in the accession talks. …

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