Cyprus peace process collapses

Marathon peace talks to pave the way for the reunification of Cyprus have collapsed, heralding the end of the UN’s peace mission there.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan held talks late into Monday night in a final attempt to reach a deal ahead of a UN deadline. But he admitted defeat after 15 hours of talks. Even an offer to extend the deadline failed, when Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said there was no immediate prospect of further discussions. The talks, at The Hague, were a last-ditch attempt to reunite the Mediterranean island before it signs a treaty in mid-April to join the European Union next year. It now looks almost certain that membership will, in effect, apply only to the southern, Greek Cypriot part of the island. The collapse could also hit Turkey’s own EU membership hopes. “If… at the end of 2004 there is still no settlement on Cyprus, we will be facing this rather weird situation where a candidate country knocking at the door does not recognise one of our own member states,” said European Commission spokesman Jean-Christophe Filori. Full Story

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