Foreign Minister expects ''explicit report'' from UN
Nicosia, Jan 20 (CNA) -- Minister of Foreign Affairs Ioannis Kasoulides
believes that the UN should not hesitate in speaking out about the negative
positions adopted by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, if Denktash does
not change his tune and does not help reach a settlement by the end of
February, a target date set by the UN.
The Minister also believes that Rauf Denktash's days as leader of the Turkish Cypriot community are numbered and that ''the mirror has cracked'' as far as Turkey's monolithic position towards Cyprus is concerned.
Speaking at a luncheon hosted by CNA for correspondents of foreign news agencies here, the Minister said if the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides see each other as partners in a future reunited Cyprus then things can move quickly towards a settlement.
He said that the chances of seeing a deal clinched by February 28 are ''minimal'' if Denktash maintains his current positions.|
''I interpret the position of the UN as a token of how seriously they view the 28 February deadline, the procedure at the UN if their patience is exhausted by then is for Kofi Annan to file a report to the Security Council and inform them as to what has happened and as to why his patience has been exhausted,'' Kasoulides said, when invited to comment on remarks by Annan's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto that things will become very dark and uncertain if the deadline is not met.
He said it would be up to the Security Council to decide what to do and added ''I am certain that the Council will give instructions for a further effort in the months to come.''
Asked if it was high time for the UN to point a finger at Denktash, if he fails to cooperate in this latest effort to reach a settlement, Kasoulides welcomed Annan's statement that Denktash should listen to the Turkish Cypriots or resign, something reiterated by the US as well.
''I am sure that what de Soto and Annan are talking about is an explicit report to the Security Council where they will no longer be lenient with Denktash and no longer be careful not to upset him and I think there will be more statements of this nature if Denktash continues to be negative at the negotiating table,'' the Minister added.
On the question of seeing a UN plan, now under discussion by the two sides, amended, Kasoulides said that if there is political will on both sides, changes of substance can be made.
''If you are two antagonistic sides, it is very difficult, but if there are two synergistic sides working for the common good, then substantial changes can be made,'' he explained.
He also noted that as long as Denktash is there, he could not see ''synergy'' and expressed optimism that ''Denktash's days are numbered.''
The Turkish Cypriot leader has come under increasing pressure from his own community to either work for a settlement on the basis of the UN plan or to resign.
Kasoulides described Denktash's remark, that the UN plan is a crime against humanity, ''ridiculous'' in that it is inconceivable to see the UN proposing a plan that runs contrary to human values and UN principles.
On future developments, the Minister said it was up to the Turkish side to see to it that the Accession Treaty for Cyprus' entry into the European Union is signed on behalf of a reunited Cyprus or by the President of the Republic of Cyprus.
''The choice is in the hands of the Turkish side, not in our hands,'' he said, suggesting that if the Turkish side contributes to a settlement, then a reunited Cyprus will become a member of the EU.
On the ongoing UN-led negotiations, the Minister said that the end result should be the product of free negotiations between the two sides.
''Our aim is not to change the philosophy of the plan but to make mutually acceptable changes of substance that would make the plan much more acceptable to the people from both sides,'' he added.
If Denktash, backed by the Turkish establishment, and ''despite the will of his people, maintains his positions, then the chances of reaching a settlement by February 28 are minimal,'' he said.
Replying to questions about the mass protests in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus against Denktash's policies, Kasoulides said he did not think the demonstrations would die down unless there is a crack down by the Turkish army.
The protests, he said, ''were tolerated by the Turkish army and this is a token of a new approach at least by the government of Turkey and also tolerance by the army.''
''The mirror cracked as far as the monolithic negative position of Turkey is concerned, now we have at least several versions and opinions coming from authoritative sources that we did not have before,'' Kasoulides said.
Asked if the Greek Cypriot side continues to work for a negotiated settlement, now that EU membership has been secured, the Minister stressed that the desire for a solution and the island's reunification continues to be there.
''We have not done anything after the EU decision in Copenhagen to indicate that we are not willing to work for a settlement, many said we would lose all interest in a settlement, this has not been proven so,'' he said.
The Minister pointed out that ''EU membership is part and parcel of a settlement, not the other way round''.
The Chairman of the CNA Board of Directors Charilaos Papadopoulos thanked the Minister for accepting the invitation and recalled a similar event last year, as the peace talks were about to begin.
He said that right now things are climaxing as they have been in the past month or so.
CNA Director Themis Themistocleous gave the Minister a photograph taken at the December EU summit in Copenhagen as it rounded up its deliberations, as a commemorative gift of a historic event for Cyprus.
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY