19:51 GMT +313 December 2018
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    ATHENS, April 13 (RIA Novosti) - Rauf Denktash, leader of Cyprus' Turkish community and President of the unrecognized Turkish republic of Northern Cyprus, has threatened to step down if the UN plan to reunify the Turkish and the Greek communities is approved in a national referendum April 24.

    In an interview for the Turkish newspaper Milliet, Denktash said he would have no reason to remain in power, should frictions arise with the Turkish government in Ankara.

    Turkey and Greece have given their consent to the plebiscites on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's reunification plan so that the divided island could join the European Union as a united country. And they also pledged to recognize the outcome of the voting, whatever it may be. This has left Denktash facing a barrage of criticism both from the UN and the Turkish government.

    Denktash, 80, has been the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community for more than three decades now. Since 1983, he has also been the president of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the northern part of the island.

    Strange as it may seem, President of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos, who is also the Greek Cypriots' leader, remains Denktash's only ally on the referendum issue. He has called on the Greek Cypriot community to reject the UN plan. He believes that the document, envisaging a federation of two states with a loose central government, will legitimize the results of the 1974 Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus.

    Annan's plan proposes a reduction in the size of Turkish Cypriot territory by 7 percent and the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island after Turkey's EU accession along with nine other countries of Eastern and Central Europe.

    With both leaders trying hard to encourage their respective communities to vote the UN plan down, it seems unlikely that the republic of Cyprus will be able to join the European Union as a united state on May 1 this year.

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