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UN says Cyprus solution plan void if not approved in referenda
2004-04-06 14:23:03

Larnaca, Apr 6 (CNA) - A Cyprus settlement plan proposed by the UN would be null and void if it is not approved at referenda to be held on April 24 on the two sides of the island, the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto said today.

Speaking at Larnaca Airport on arrival in Cyprus in view of the referenda, de Soto appealed to the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot people to read and calmly assess the plan, noting that it was improved during talks in Burgenstock, Switzerland, for both sides.

The Peruvian diplomat said he briefed the UN Security Council on developments and stopped off in Dublin where he met Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, who holds the rotating Presidency of the European Union.

"I know that I come back to the island at a very delicate moment. On each side, there is a great deal of internal deliberation going on in advance of the referenda on 24 April. This is as it should be. As the Secretary-General said in Burgenstock, the decision is now up to the people, and rightly so. We have no intention of interfering in that democratic decision,'' de Soto said.

He added that the Annan plan ''provides for one referendum, on 24 April 2004, it does not provide for a second bite of the cherry some time later on.''

''On the contrary, the plan will be null and void if it isn't approved at referenda. We've had four years of intensive negotiations. The product is on the table. The time has come for a definitive decision,'' he said.

De Soto noted that ''in making that decision, I would appeal for a calm assessment of the plan on each side.''

''Above all, I appeal to people to read the plan. Despite what has been reported in some quarters, the plan was improved at Burgenstock - for both sides,'' he added.

De Soto said ''the plan was not dreamt up by the Secretary-General'', noting that ''it reflects a four year process of negotiations between the parties.''

''The vast bulk of the plan has been agreed. There are some points where the Secretary-General filled in the gaps by invitation of the leaders,'' de Soto added.

He noted that ''obviously, the plan is a compromise but it is a principled compromise,'' and expressed the UN conviction that ''the final product is a fair plan, a workable plan, a plan that accommodates the concerns of each side but the only way the Cypriots can decide this is if they read the plan themselves.''

''If my Greek Cypriot friends read the plan, they will discover that it is very different from how it is sometimes portrayed, and that it meets the most important basic concerns of the Greek Cypriot side,'' de Soto said.

Referring to the plan, he said it ''safeguards the independence and territorial integrity of Cyprus, in accordance with international law and the resolutions of the Security Council, the federal government is designed to be able to function immediately and effectively, and a majority of displaced and dispossessed persons will be able to return to their homes under Greek Cypriot administration.''

Furthermore, he said ''all other displaced and dispossessed persons will have their property rights fully honoured by reinstatement and/or compensation,'' noting that ''they will mostly get back one-third of their property and be fully compensated for the rest.''

''There will be no limits on people returning - or going for the first time - to establish secondary residences in the other constituent state. And over time, those who truly want to live permanently in the other constituent state will be able to do so,'' he added.

Regarding the Turkish Cypriots, he said that on reading the plan ''they will discover that the plan meets the most basic concerns of the Turkish Cypriot side.''

He explained that ''the plan is based on the political equality of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, provides for two constituent states of equal status, enshrining the distinct identities of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, with each side largely to run its own affairs under its own constitutions, and provides for a bizonal set-up and ensures that neither side will be overrun or dominated by the other.''

Furthermore, he said ''the system of guarantees established by international treaty in 1960 remains unchanged, and some Turkish Cypriots will have to be relocated but the plan ensures that this will be done properly and fairly.''

''I would also say, to both sides, that the security arrangements in the plan are designed to allay the concerns of each side, and to ensure that the settlement can be implemented smoothly,'' he said.

Asked if he expected any steps from the two sides before the referenda, de Soto replied in the positive, noting that there are ''seven or eight steps, concrete ones, practical ones that have to be taken with regard to the identification of the federal property, to federal buildings, to earmarking of personnel for the federal government, it refers to, for instance, a list of 45 thousand people who will be deemed to be citizens of the United Cyprus Republic upon entry into force.''

Invited to say if he would be staying in Cyprus until the referenda, de Soto said he would and might ''take trips outside briefly.''

Asked if he would be meeting with the leaders of the two communities in the meantime, de Soto said he hoped so.

To a question what would happen if there was a negative outcome in the referenda, de Soto said he would ''not even speculate on that.''

Asked who would secure that the plan would be implemented, de Soto said ''the plan provides for a political agreement between the two sides and assumes that it counts on the support of the guarantors.''

''We are looking forward to the support of the Security Council as well, not to mention the EU and other European bodies. It doesn't provide for the use of force as such. What it does is provide for a solemn international commitment of support,'' he added.

Replying to questions, he said that ''we should start from the assumption that those who sign the plan and those who support it are doing so in good faith and that there will need to be obligations that they undertake.''

Asked about the functionality of the plan, he said ''there are built-in mechanisms and undertakings that make it very difficult for anyone not to honour their commitments.''

''The UN is proposing this plan up for a decision at this referendum and this is the opportunity that they have,'' he added.

Asked what would happen after that, de Soto said, ''After that? I don't know. I have no answer for you.''

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