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Greek Cypriots Reject UN Reunification Plan - 2004-04-24

A United Nations brokered plan to reunify the island of Cyprus after 30 years of ethnic partition has been overwhelmingly rejected.

Final official results show 76 percent of the Greek Cypriot community voted against the plan, while a similar measure was approved in a separate referendum by 65 percent of the Turkish Cypriot community.

As the first results began to come in, the outcome was clear, a definite rejection of the plan by Greek Cypriot voters and a solid endorsement by Turkish Cypriots. The results came as no great surprise, and followed predictions of recent opinion polls.

The U.N.-brokered plan was to re-unite Greek and Turkish Cypriot states within a loose federation. It called for the removal of most Turkish troops now based in the northern Turkish Cypriot enclave, and outlined a settlement of outstanding land and property issues stemming from the partition 30 years ago.

But many Greek Cypriots say the plan does not adequately guarantee their rights to regain properties they lost after the 1974 Turkish invasion, nor does it completely rid the island of Turkish troops or Turkey's influence.

Turkey's invasion was sparked by a Greek Cypriot coup, backed by Athens and aimed at uniting Cyprus with mainland Greece. Turkey still maintains about 40,000 troops in northern Cyprus, which is recognized as an independent country only by Ankara.

Turkish Cypriots felt the U.N. plan would end their long political and economic isolation and offer them a better future within Europe.

But most Greek Cypriots say they're hoping for a better deal in the future.

Rejection of the plan means that Cyprus remains divided, and only the Greek portion of the island now enters into the European Union on May 1.