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Kofi Annan expresses ''profound regret'' over missed opportunity
2003-04-08 10:12:10

Nicosia, Apr 8 (CNA) -- UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has expressed profound regret that the people of Cyprus missed an opportunity to decide about their future, following the collapse last month of his latest attempt to bring about a negotiated settlement.

In his 35-page report on the peace effort that started in 1999 and ended in March this year, Annan calls on the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot parties to adhere to his peace proposal ''as the finely wrought balance that it is.''

Kofi Annan points out that Cyprus needs a solution sui generis.

The report, released officially Monday, gives a very detailed outline of the meetings, consultations and contacts among interested parties, an effort which cost the UN an estimated 3,148.500 US dollars.

Annan says that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash ''bears prime responsibility'' in the case of the failure of this latest effort, noting that Denktash had declined, except ''for very few instances'', to engage in negotiations.|

''Both sides (in Cyprus) have done little over the years to prepare their respective publics for the compromises that a settlement would involve,'' he says.

He commends Greece for its continuous strong support throughout his effort and says that the Turkish side, through Turkish officials, engaged seriously in the substance of the issue only the last frantic months of the three-and-a-half- year effort.

''After decades of conflict and separation of the two communities, there are both psychological and substantive hurdles (de facto, two administrative structures, economic disparities, patterns of resettlement and property allocation) to swift implementation of any settlement,'' Annan says.

In one of the footnotes in the report, Annan says that his plan did not propose the Swiss model as the solution for Cyprus.

''Cyprus requires a solution sui generis. While specific aspects of various models provided inspiration, none were simply transplanted wholesale,'' he says.

In a different footnote, explaining the proposed collective presidential council with rotating chair, Annan says that this form of government has ancient origins (Roman) and was revived by both the French and the Russian revolutions.

Its primary purpose is to solve the delicate question of who should be at the helm of a multi-ethnic and multicultural country.

Kofi Annan pays particular tribute to his special adviser Alvaro de Soto, who led the UN efforts, congratulating him for putting together ''with creativity and ingenuity a settlement plan that is a model of its kind.''

''His diplomacy too was impeccable. Responsibility for the failure to achieve a settlement lies elsewhere,'' Annan says, adding that his adviser was assisted by a talented and high-powered team of experts.

The Secretary General says he met the leaders of the two communities on 11 occasions, de Soto hosted 54 separate meetings, 72 meetings in direct format and called on each leader on more than 100 occasions during the entire period.

Alvaro de Soto made around 30 trips to Greece and Turkey and dozens of trips to the capitals of Security Council members, the European Commission in Brussels and the European Union member states.

Annan says that his peace proposal of 192 pages has an additional 250 pages of finalized laws. By March 11, when the talks collapsed, draft laws were running to 6,000 pages were ready as were lists of 1,954 treaties and instruments.

This latest UN attempt to reach a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus and reunited the island ended on 11 March this year, when Denktash refused to commit himself to a referendum on Annan's proposal, saying also that he wanted radical changes to it.

Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, Annan notes, accepted to hold a referendum but said legal aspects of the solution must be agreed upon and the people would need to be fully informed about the contents of the proposal they will be voting on.

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

CNA MM/GP/2003

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