On April 24th, Greek and Turkish Cypriots will vote on a plan drafted by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan after extensive talks with Greek and Turkish Cypriot representatives. The Annan plan would establish a federation of two entities, one Greek and one Turkish, under a Cypriot central government.
“Let us seize this chance for peace in the united republic of Cyprus,” said Mr. Annan. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli says the U.S. supports the Annan plan:
“We believe that the Secretary General’s final settlement plan is a fair compromise, one that meets the core interests of all Cypriots and provides them a secure framework for a common future. It’s important that the Cypriot voters know that the United States is committed to supporting the full implementation of the Secretary General’s settlement plan.”
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish forces occupied the northern portion of the island following a failed coup led by Greek army officers serving in the Cypriot national guard. In 1983, Turkish Cypriots declared an independent state, but Turkey is the only country to recognize it.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed support for the U-N plan. Addressing himself to Greeks and Greek Cypriots, he said, “Let us walk together on the road to peace. . .and let us take the necessary steps together.” Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said, “It is now up to the people of Cyprus to reach a decision, and I hope they will do this with clear thought and vision.”
As U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell put it, the U-N plan for Cyprus “offers the way for Greek and Turkish Cypriots to set aside the bitterness of the past, move forward in peace, prosperity, and partnership, and share together in all the benefits of European Union membership.”