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Annan urges Cyprus parties to say "yes" to referenda
2003-03-05 10:26:47

by Apostolis Zoupaniotis-- United Nations, Mar 5 (CNA) -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said the Security Council is very supportive of the efforts for a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus and urged the leaders of the two communities to go to The Hague and say "yes" to 30 March referenda.

Speaking to reporters after briefing the UN Security Council on his trip to Athens, Ankara and Nicosia, Annan said the deadlines are real and genuine, noting that if the parties say "no", his good offices would be always available, but he will not be able to sustain the same pace and the same engagement.|

Britain's Permanent Representative to the UN, Jeremy Greenstock, warned that such an opportunity will not come back again, noting it was "a crunch point for the 'peoples' of Cyprus".

Annan said he "briefed the Security Council] on the Cyprus issue and brought them up-to-date on my discussions on the island and the talks we are going to have on the 10th (of March) in The Hague and explained to them where we are, indicating that we now have a name, a new Cyprus Republic, which will be a federation made up of two constituent states, the Greek Cypriot State and the Turkish Cypriot State - and also the fact that we have made some suggestions for the security arrangements between the Greeks and Turkey".

"I think this is a unique opportunity for the people of the island and all that we are asking the leaders to do is come to The Hague and to confirm to us that they are prepared to put the basic agreement to referenda and to let the people decide".

He repeated that when they meet in The Hague, "they will come prepared, as I have suggested to them, that they undertake all the internal consultations in the meantime and come ready to give me a definitive answer".

Annan said he thought "the Council is very supportive of the efforts we are making and are also hoping that the parties will come to The Hague and say 'yes'".

"I hope that the consultations are taking place on the island and with the motherlands, that is Turkey and Greece, for them to come with a positive answer", Annan said, stressing that "if the answer were to be negative, then of course we cannot move forward. It also would mean a united Cyprus will not be able to accede to the European Union on the 16th of April".

The UN Chief remarked that the deadlines that "we have set are real and genuine - it is not artificial. If they do not have the referendum on 30th of March, I don't see how they can get into the EU jointly on the 16th (of April). And so the issues are clear, we have been very frank with the parties and, of course, if they were to turn it down, we will have to draw the consequences".

Annan said his "good offices are always available", but he did not think that he "will be able to sustain the same pace and the same engagement that we have done up to now".

Asked by CNA what kind of different mandate he means, the Secretary General said it was not a different mandate, "but what must be clear is that if this opportunity is missed ? I'm not sure when it is going to come around again".

"We have a wave and if we ride that wave now, I think we will be successful. If we let it pass, I'm not sure the opportunity will come around again, if ever".

Asked if he thinks the Cyprus problem can be solved in the European Union or it will go on, Annan replied "why do you think I would be making all this effort if I didn't believe it would be so. No, it is solvable, but what is required is political will and determination to make it happen and I know that the leaders can summon the wisdom and the courage to let it happen".

"The people would want to see a settlement; the people would want to see a united Cyprus enter the European Union and I hope the leaders will give them a chance to speak up and not deprive them of a voice", he added.

Asked if he is pessimistic or optimistic, the UN chief said "I am always optimistic. Without hope and optimism, I wouldn't be pushing them as hard as I am doing and we wouldn't be here telling you about what we did last week - and I still think that it can be done".

"I would urge the leaders not to be close-minded, to undertake very serious and constructive consultations with their own people, with the two motherlands, and come to The Hague in a constructive mood. They have a chance to make history and I hope they will not let it pass", he concluded.

British Ambassador Greenstock said the Secretary General briefed the Security Council on the fate of his mission on Cyprus and "brought it up to date on where he's got to, which is very important for the Council".

Greenstock said Annan's negotiation of the settlement process "has been extremely skilful" and the "Council is recognising that".

He said the UK "fully supports his efforts to bring together the two leaderships in The Hague on 10 March to get them to agree to putting the Annan III proposal, as that called, to referenda on the island on the 31st (30) of March. That is an extremely important juncture because it is now time for the people of Cyprus to have their say".

Greenstock said the members of the Council "very warmly supported the Secretary General's efforts. It is now time for the two leaderships and the UK puts out this call to both of them, to agree to put these proposals to referenda at the end of March, so that the people of Cyprus can express their view on what is an extremely important issue for their long term future. So the UK is fully behind these proposals".

Asked if we are at the end of the road on Cyprus for the present mandate if one of the parties refuses to accept a referendum, Greenstock said that was for the Secretary General to say, "but he has clearly indicated that this current phase, which is a unique opportunity will come to an end.

When he uses the words 'unique opportunity' I think he means such an opportunity will not come back again, so this is a crunch point for the 'peoples' of Cyprus'', Greenstock added.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.


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