Annan Asks For Help to Decide Fate of Cyprus

As bringing divided Cyprus together becomes more difficult, UNSecretary General Kofi Annan made an unusual request for supportfrom his Security Council.

Annan asked the council to agree to hisreunification plan but said that April 29th was the lastday it could be done, which is five days after the Greek andTurkish sides of the divided Mediterranean island will have alreadydecided its fate.

Diplomats said the request was an implicitshowing of Annan’s fear that one of his more important politicalprojects may fail when the island votes on the plan.

Annan has made personal efforts in Cyprus,leading roughly four years of labored negotiations to try to endits 30-year division before it will join the European Union on May1.

“Cleary Annan feels strongly about this plan,”said Jacques Purvis, a senior Political Science major at HowardUniversity. “Is this about regional peace or does the UN havesomething to gain from reunification?”

But if either side disagrees by voting theplan down, then the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot southwill be admitted. Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos andthe south’s largest political party want it voted down.

Annan asked the 15-nation council for aresolution, some of which he drafted himself after the two sidescould not agree on important points.

“Timely action by the council would go a longway to reassuring the people, as they vote on the future of theircountry, that the settlement will have the strong support of theUnited Nations and that its security provisions will be fullyimplemented,” he said in a statement.

But Annan said the council did not have togive its backing before the vote and could act as late as April 29– the date the plan would come into effect if approved.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, whenTurkey invaded and occupied the northern third after a coup triedto join the island to Greece.

Rejection of Annan’s proposal could weld theisland’s division and also undermine Turkey’s own hopes, backed bythe United States, to join the European Union later.

“The outcome is far from certain,” Annanwrote. “The presentation of the contents of the plan to the publichas not always been equally balanced.”