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UN chief hopes Cyprus peace plan will not wither away
2003-04-05 22:03:11

by Apostolis Zoupaniotis -- United Nations, Apr 5 (CNA) - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says in a report that although he does not propose to take a new initiative yet on the Cyprus problem, he believes it would be a great step backward if his peace plan were to simply wither away.

In his draft report on his mission of good offices in Cyprus, to be presented before the Security Council on Monday, Annan says ''the end has been reached in the effort that began in late 1999'' and that ''the window of opportunity that opened then was closed at the 10-11 March 2003 meeting'' in The Hague.

Annan clearly blames the Turkish Cypriot side for the collapse of the talks in The Hague and expresses positive comments about both former President of the Republic Glafcos Clerides and President Tassos Papadopoulos.|

''Under my auspices, an intensive effort was undertaken between 1999 and early 2003 to assist the two sides in Cyprus to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem. This effort was undertaken in the context of a unique opportunity which, had it been seized, would have allowed a reunited Cyprus to sign the Treaty of Accession to the EU on 16 April 2003'', he says.

Annan adds that ''proximity talks were held between December 1999 and November 2000, and direct talks between January 2002 and February 2003''.

''During the process, the parties were not able to reach agreement without third party assistance. Accordingly, I submitted a comprehensive settlement proposal on 11 November 2002, a first revision on 10 December 2002, and a second revision on 26 February 2003. The plan required a referendum in advance of 16 April 2003 to approve it and reunify Cyprus'', Annan points out.

He notes that ''in The Hague on 10-11 March 2003, it became clear that it would not be possible to achieve agreement to conduct such a referendum, and the process came to an end''.

''My plan remains on the table. I do not propose to take a new initiative without solid reason to believe that the political will exists necessary for a successful outcome'', the UN chief adds.

He says he does ''not believe that such an opportunity will occur any time soon'' but he does believe however that ''it would be a great step backward if the plan as such were simply to wither away''.

Annan says ''there have been many missed opportunities over the years in the UN good offices efforts on Cyprus'' and that ''both sides bear a share of the blame for those failures''.

''But in the case of the failure of this latest effort, I believe that Mr. (Rauf) Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader, bears prime responsibility'', Annan adds.

Commenting on the efforts made by Clerides, Annan says the former President ''sought to find ways to address the interests and concerns of the Turkish Cypriot side'' and furthermore ''showed a willingness to seek out ways to circumvent ideological barriers and solve problems in a practical way''.

Referring to Papadopoulos, who was elected President of the Republic in mid- February 2003, Annan says he accepted that continuity existed with his predecessor, ''vowed to refrain from requesting substantive alterations'' to the peace plan and ''agreed to work apace and in good faith within the time frame provided for the plan'', although he doubted ''whether it would be possible, as a practical matter, to reach a settlement in the time remaining.

On Greece and Turkey, Annan says that the role of the two countries ''both as guarantors and as motherlands is crucial to reaching a settlement, for both legal and political reasons''.

''I am pleased to have counted on the strong support of Greece throughout my effort'', he says and hopes that the new government in Turkey ''will soon be in a position to throw its support unequivocally behind the search for a settlement, for without that support it is difficult to foresee one being reached''.


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