Papadopoulos: arguments for Annan plan changes are gaining ground

THE GREEK Cypriot side has convincing arguments to push for the changes it wants to the Annan plan, President Tassos Papadopoulos said yesterday.

Speaking at Larnaca Airport on his return from New York, where he attended the UN General Assembly, Papadopoulos said that international mediators were also increasingly recognising the need for changes.

“I return home satisfied with my contacts and the messages conveyed to me by nearly all of my interlocutors,” he told reporters on arrival.

Papadopoulos said he had outlined the changes the Greek Cypriot side wanted to the plan to make it more “functional and viable” to the mediators involved.

“Today, more and more persons involved in the peace plan acknowledge the need to introduce improvements to it and when we talk about improvements, we are not referring to changing dates which have been overtaken by events anyway or completing the legal instruments of the common state to be established through negotiations,” Papadopoulos said.
“I believe that this position is becoming more and more understandable and the next step is for us to be in a position to convince others at the negotiating table, not unilaterally, about the changes needed to render Cyprus a constructive and useful partner in the European Union and not a troublesome presence.”

When the Annan plan was put to the two sides for signing in March, it was made clear that the changes could only be minimal. Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash refused point blank to sign and the Greek Cypriot side said it wanted to make some changes within the parameters of the overall plan. Now, the government is talking constantly of changes to make the plan more “workable”.

Replying to questions on the UN position towards changes to the plan, Papadopoulos said UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan did not have the luxury of airing his views before the resumption of talks. “I am however under the impression that we do have arguments and suggestions that can convince,” he said.

Commenting on prospects for the resumption of talks, Papadopoulos said international mediators shared the view that there was no chance of negotiations before the December elections in the north, at which the Turkish Cypriot opposition hopes to oust Denktash as Cyprus negotiator.

Papadopoulos said he would shortly be informing the National Council on his talks in the US.