Vasiliou not optimistic over Denktash talks

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Series Details Vol.7, No.44, 29.11.01, p3
Publication Date 29/11/2001
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Date: 29/11/01

By David Cronin

TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash is "not interested" in settling the dispute over the island's future, says Nicosia's chief negotiator with the EU.

Denktash is scheduled to have his first meeting in four years with Cyprus' President Giafcos Clerides next Tuesday (4 December), but George Vasiliou says his expectations are limited.

"I would hope that Denktash would say "let bygones be bygones and let's sit down and agree on a solution'," the negotiator told European Voice. "But I'm afraid he will insist on his position of there being two separate states."

However, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said yesterday that the meeting is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to end the dispute.

Denktash, Vasiliou added, has been under "tremendous pressure from the international community" to meet Clerides after he refused to attend UN-sponsored talks in New York earlier this year. His view that Denktash is unwilling to work for a political solution to the "Cyprus problem" is based on meetings the pair had during the late 1980s when Vasiliou was the country's president.

The Greek Cypriot side has offered the northern part of the island special status within a federation. But Denktash has held firm to his demand for an independent state. While Vasiliou believes it would be "neither polite nor advisable" not to heed Ankara's threat to annex northern Cyprus if the island joins the Union without agreement on its future, he said it made "no sense" for Turkish Cypriots and "less sense" for Turkey: "In practice it would mean that Turkey would decide to attack the European Union. And that is not even in Harry Potter's dreams."

Vasiliou also said that he believed the UK should abandon its "sovereign bases" at Akrotiri and Dhekelia as they are "remnants of colonialism".

Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash is 'not interested' in settling the dispute over the island's future, according to Nicosia's chief negotiator with the EU.

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