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SLUG: 2-297060 U-N / Cyprus (L-O)





BYLINE=Elaine Johanson

DATELINE=United Nations



INTRO: U-N Secretary-General Kofi Annan says he is not ready to give up on a political settlement to unify Cyprus before next week's meeting of the European Union. The E-U meets in Copenhagen December 12th and 13th, to vote in new members. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from U-N headquarters in New York:

TEXT: Despite a looming deadline, Secretary-General Annan insists there is still time for the Greek and Turkish Cypriots to agree to his new plan for re-unifying their divided island:


The time has not run out. We are today at the third of December and we have almost 10 days, nine to 10 days, and that is plenty of time.

///END ACT///

The European Union is expected to invite 10 countries, including Cyprus, to join the bloc in 2004.

Secretary-General Annan says a united Cyprus would benefit greatly from E-U membership, especially the more impoverished northern part of the country, where the Turkish community set up their own independent state more than 15 years ago:


My dream is to see a united Cyprus admitted to the European Union, and a Cyprus that will enter the E-U and prosper as one nation. I think the people have gone through this conflict for several decades and we now have an opportunity to end it. And I hope the two leaders will seize the opportunity and bring peace and stability to this island, and make history.

///END ACT///

Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has urged the E-U not to jeopardize the peace effort by admitting a divided Cyprus. Mr. Denktash, who is recovering from major heart surgery, has yet to give the U-N a clear answer on its reunification plan. The proposed settlement calls for two component states on Cyprus, joined under a rotating presidency. It also calls on the Turkish Cypriots to give up some of the territory they now claim.

E-U diplomats have said it would be enough for them to have both sides agree on a framework for reunification by the December 12th meeting. The Greek Cypriots have already said that they accept the U-N plan as a basis for negotiations.

Cyprus has been divided since Turkey invaded the island in 1974, in response to a coup in Nicosia engineered by Greece. The prospect of E-U membership is considered a big catalyst for a settlement, after many years of failed diplomacy aimed at re-uniting the two communities. (signed)


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