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UN top envoy says things will change after April 16
2003-02-14 12:05:14

Nicosia, Feb 14 (CNA) -- Alvaro de Soto, the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, has warned that failure to reach a negotiated settlement by the end of February means that things will change after April 16, when Cyprus is to sign its Accession Treaty with the European Union.

De Soto also said that Kofi Annan's visit to Ankara, Athens and Nicosia at the end of the month is not a coincidence and stressed that the Secretary General wants to press on with the need to complete an agreement and to make every effort to help the two sides in Cyprus to achieve this objective.|

Speaking on arrival from New York, de Soto referred to the announcement by the Secretary General of ''his intention of coming to Cyprus in the last week of the month'' and his plans to visit Turkey and Greece before that.

''It is not a coincidence, there are two main reasons,'' he said.

He explained that ''the first is the deadline, the need to complete an agreement by the end of the month is a very real one and it is not a deadline that has been imposed by the Secretary General.''

''The second is that he believes that a settlement by then is a real possibility and he wants to make every effort at his disposal and within his reach to help the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots to bring about this goal,'' he added.

The UN envoy said he was due to have a meeting with the leaders of the two sides, President Glafcos Clerides and Rauf Denktash this afternoon, in the context of the UN-led direct talks.

Asked if he brought a new UN peace plan, he said he was not going to say anything about a plan.

Invited to say whether it is possible to find a solution after February 28, he said that ''if you do not complete a settlement by that date, it would not be possible for a united Cyprus to sign the Treaty of Accession on the April 16.''

''That is the importance of the deadline because everything changes after April 16, and the opportunity that has existed until now disappears until something happens and that is totally uncertain,'' he added.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.


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