Greek Cypriots reject UN plans for unification

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The Independent Online

Cyprus will enter the European Union as a divided country after Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected the United Nations peace plan yesterday.

Cyprus will enter the European Union as a divided country after Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected the United Nations peace plan yesterday.

Turkish Cypriots strongly endorsed the settlement, with 61 per cent voting in favour but a crushing 78.5 per cent of Greek Cypriots said "no" to the power-sharing deal, according to late exit polls.

The result means only the Greek Cypriots will enjoy the benefits of EU membership as of 1 May. Cypriots were voting in separate referendums on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's blueprint to reunify the island after three decades of division.

The defeat of the plan marks another lowpoint in Europe's longest-running conflict and threatens to derail Turkey's longstanding ambition of eventual entry into the 25-nation bloc. For diplomats who have worked for years to deliver a viable solution it was a frustrating turnaround in which the Turkish-Cypriot naysayers finally relented, only for Greek-Cypriot intransigents to take their place.

The EU Enlargement Commissioner, Guenther Verheugen, accused the Greek Cypriot President, Tassos Papadopoulos, of betrayal after he accepted the principles of the UN settlement but campaigned against the latest revision. "Papadopoulos will be the pariah of Europe," warned one diplomat.

Mr Papadopoulos assured voters future plans would be forthcoming, but diplomatic sources said the UN would remove its envoy, Alvaro de Soto, immediately.

The rejection leaves the EU with an eastern border that is a heavily guarded no-man's land, littered with landmines and patrolled by the UN.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when an Athens-engineered coup aimed at declaring union with Greece prompted Turkey to invade.

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