NICOSIA, Cyprus – Foreign pressure for the acceptance of a United Nations plan for the reunification of Cyprus has failed to persuade Cypriots to accept it, according to an opinion poll published Friday. The poll, conducted Tuesday, showed that 78 percent of Greek Cypriots intend to reject the plan in the April 24 referendum, an increase from polls earlier this month that put the rejection at about 70 percent.
The telephone survey of 620 Greek Cypriots was conducted for the MEGA TV channel by RAI Consultants, with a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
Polls show that 60 percent of Turkish Cypriot are ready to accept the plan.
Greek Cypriots feel the plan favors the Turkish side by limiting the return of refugees to the north and allowing an estimated 100,000 settlers from Turkey to remain.
Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou on Friday played down talk of an international backlash if the island’s Greek voters reject a UN peace plan this month. “We have always aimed at a solution before (Cyprus’ EU) accession on the 1st of May,” he told reporters as he arrived for a meeting of EU foreign ministers.
But Iacovou added: “I think it was left a little bit too late. There were too many gaps to fill in in just one month of negotiations.” Twin votes on the Greek and Turkish sides of the island are set for April 24 after an intense push by UN chief Kofi Annan and the international community to reunify the Mediterranean island before it joins the EU in two weeks.
The US on Thursday pledged 400 million dollars for a reunited Cyprus if both communities back the UN peace plan in next weekend’s referendums. But it sent a pointed warning to the Greek Cypriots that the vote’s failure would result in a new US policy, which would notably bolster aid to Turkish Cypriots.
But the Greek Cypriot minister said his community would not suffer if, as surveys suggest, it rejects Annan’s proposed settlement. “The Turks have been saying no for 29 years. There was no backlash on them,” he said “On the contrary everybody has been saying let’s invite them into the Union. I don’t see why on this particular issue there should be a backlash. I think we will be very good members of the Union.”