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Annan says onus on all parties to solve Cyprus problem
2003-04-11 18:10:15

United Nations, Apr 10 (CNA) - The UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto said today that the onus is on the parties in Cyprus and their motherlands to demonstrate the political will to solve the Cyprus problem based on his plan, in the manner he has suggested.

Outlining the Secretary-General's report before the Security Council, de Soto said that looking to the future, Kofi Annan ''does not intend to take a new initiative unless and until such time as he has solid reason to believe that the political will exists necessary for a successful outcome''.|

''This, he said, would come about if there was an unequivocally-stated preparedness on the part of the leaders of both sides, fully and determinedly backed at the highest political level in both motherlands, to commit (a) to finalise the plan (without re-opening its basic principles or key trade-offs) by a specific date, with UN assistance, and (b) to put it to separate simultaneous referenda as provided for in the plan on a date certain soon thereafter”.

''The onus is on the parties and the motherlands to demonstrate the political will to solve the problem on the basis of his plan, in the manner which the Secretary-General has suggested'', de Soto said.

He remarked that the Secretary-General's written report on his efforts between late 1999 and 11 March 2003 to assist the two sides in Cyprus to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem is the first on the Secretary-General's mission of good offices since June of 1999.

De Soto noted that ''in terms of the wider political environment in the region, all the conditions were in place'' and the Secretary-General himself was ''deeply and heavily involved in the effort, throwing his full backing behind it'' and strongly supported by the Council ''every step of the way''.

He said he believes ''a fair and honourable package, comprehensive in approach and only needing technical finalisation, was on the table''.

De Soto said ''the fact that a solution has not been achieved in these circumstances is therefore deeply disappointing'', noting ''it seems attributable to failings of political will rather than to the absence of favourable circumstances''.

He said towards the end of the process, when decisions had to be made, the ''crisis in Iraq loomed large and made it difficult, particularly for Turkey, to take the bold decisions, and bring the necessary influence to bear, in order to achieve a settlement''.

''Be that as it may, a unique opportunity has been missed, and the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots have been denied the opportunity to vote to reunite Cyprus'', de Soto said.

''The immediate losers are the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey, but the Greek Cypriots and Greece are also losers'', he said noting this was ''truly a lose-lose outcome''.

Referring to the plan, de Soto said ''like all human endeavours, the plan is not perfect'' but ''represents the best effort of the United Nations to generate a balanced and truly comprehensive proposal which resolves all issues, leaves little to be negotiated, and above all, represents a fair and honourable settlement which meets the core interests and aspirations of both sides''.

He emphasised that ''every word of the plan was worked on many times, carefully calibrated, and weighed in the overall balance and if any significant piece is removed and the balance is altered, it could fall to the ground''.

That is why Annan ''speaks of the need, in a future negotiation, not to re-open the basic principles or key trade-offs in the plan'', de Soto added.

He said that in the coming period, after the signing of the EU Accession Treaty on April 16 in Athens, through the entry into force of that treaty on May 1, 2004, and in the run-up to the European Council of December 2004 in which a decision is to be taken on accession talks with Turkey, the overwhelming need is for the parties to hew closely to the plan, adding that ''to re-open its basic principles or key trade-offs would be to put the entire enterprise at peril''.

This is why Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's suggestion in The Hague that the parties should return to a discussion on principles ''did not, in the Secretary-General's view, give any hope that agreement could be achieved'', de Soto said.

Equally, he said, that is why President Tassos Papadopoulos' ''preparedness not to re-open the substantive parts of the plan if Mr. Denktash responded in the same manner was welcome. The hope must be that, in time, the Turkish Cypriot side will come around to the same position that Mr. Papadopoulos took in The Hague'', he added.

In the report, de Soto cites the current development with the letters which Denktash has sent to Papadopoulos proposing that they meet to discuss a range of confidence-building measures and the latter's reply that in his view, ''the stalemate was caused not by a crisis of confidence but by Mr. Denktash and Turkey not accepting the Secretary-General's plan as the basis for a negotiating a final settlement''.

''Mr. Papadopoulos restated in the most clear terms that he remains committed, even after April 16, to finding a solution within the parameters of the Annan plan'', he said and called on Mr. Denktash ''to indicate that he accepts the Secretary-General's plan as the basis for a further negotiating process''.

The Security Council began informal consultations on the report and according to sources a resolution is not expected to pass before Monday or Tuesday.


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