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Greek Cypriot Leader Says Vote Against UN Plan Not Vote Against Cyprus Settlement - 2004-04-24

A majority of Greek Cyrpiot population in Cyprus has rejected a U.N. backed peace plan to end the division of the Mediterranean island.

More than 89 per cent the Greek Cypriot population turned out to cast their vote and as widely expected they backed their President Tassos Papadopoulos and rejected the U-N peace plan to reunify the island, with a massive 76 per cent voting 'no'.

In a statement from the Presidential Palace after the final results were presented, the Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said the people did not say 'no' to a Cyprus settlement but to the specific solution proposed.

The President also spoke about new measures to support the Turkish Cypriots, but did not indicate what the measure would be.

Like many Greek Cypriots, Professor Mike Hajimichael, a social communications expert at the Cyprus College in Nicosia questioned the President's political plan for Turkish Cypriots.

"I would really like to know what this new strategy is, it baffles me in a way. We will wait and see," he said.

Only one village in the south of Cyprus, Derinya, backed the U-N plan, and the population there is mostly made up of refugees who were displaced in 1974.

In the north of Cyprus, where 65 per cent of the population voted yes to the peace plan, several thousand people marched on the office of the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, demanding he resign. Mr. Denktash has opposed the U.N. plan from the outset.

Asked whether President Rauf Denktash should resign, the Turkish Foreign Minister Abdulla Gul said that it was domestic matter for the administration in Northern Cyprus to decide.

President of the European Council, Prime Minister of Ireland Bertie Ahern, has expressed regret that the U.N. plan was rejected in the Greek Cypriot community.

The defeat of the plan means only the international-recognized Greek-led government will enjoy the full benefits of joining the European Union on May First.

The United Nations announced after the vote that it was shutting its Cyprus peace envoy office, officially ending the four-year process. There are no other peace proposals for Cyprus re-unification and the departure of the UN makes the prospect of any new peace initiative slim.