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GOVERNMENT'S COMMENTS ON SECURITY COUNCIL STATEMENT
2002-02-27 20:37:26

Nicosia, Feb 27 (CNA) -- Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides considers a UN Security Council statement with regard to the direct talks as an indication of the importance the Council attaches to the talks. The minister has welcomed remarks by current European Union Council president Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar that Brussels will decide on Cyprus' accession irrespective of any progress in the ongoing UN- led effort to find a negotiated settlement. He said UN Secretary General's Special Adviser for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto will be briefing the Council once a month and depending on developments in the talks it will decide whether it will issue a statement or not.

"The statement of the Council reflects the seriousness it attaches to the peace process and its desire to remain informed about these talks," Kasoulides said prior to his departure for Australia, to attend the Commonwealth Heads of State or Government (GHOCM).|

"I consider this to be particularly important in relation to the intention of the Council and of the international community to monitor the peace effort," Kasoulides said.

The UN Council urged Tuesday the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot community, President Glafcos Clerides and Rauf Dentkash respectively, to approach the resumption of the direct talks on Friday in a spirit of compromise and with a sense of urgency and with the political determination so as to narrow the differences between them.

Clerides and Denktash have been engaged in direct talks since 16 January in Nicosia, in the presence of Alvaro de Soto. They are set to resume negotiations on March 1, and decided to meet twice a week for longer, instead of three weekly but shorted meetings they have had so far.

Commenting on yesterday's visit to Cyprus by Aznar, he said the premier's comments have sealed EU decisions that the solution of the Cyprus question is not a precondition to the Republic's accession.

Replying to questions, Kasoulides called for continuous work to bring the accession talks to a successful conclusion, noting that Cyprus has every chance to do exactly that.

On the GHOCM, the minister said the meeting from 2-5 March will deal primarily with a report on the future and the role of the Commonwealth, international concerns and issues directly related to Commonwealth members, such as Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone and Pakistan.

"I will brief the Commonwealth on the outcome of the first round of direct talks and we expect to have a joint communique issued after the meeting which will also have a reference to Cyprus," Kasoulides said.

The Government Spokesman similarly stated that a Security Council statement on the ongoing Cyprus peace talks has dispersed all concerns with regard to the role the UN is playing at these talks in that it has repeated the Council's position that resolution 1250 is the basis on which the peace process is founded.

Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, commenting on yesterday's statement, said it reiterates clearly the interest of the Council in the talks, it indicates a timeframe for them (June this year) and it repeats that the talks are taking place in the context of the good offices mission of the UN Secretary General.|

"The Council has dispersed any concerns, which we believe were in fact unjustified, about the UN role in the peace process and it has restated that the exercise of Kofi Annan's good offices emanates from resolution 1250 and that this process lies within the terms of reference and the good offices mission of the Secretary General," Papapetrou said after today's cabinet meeting.

Papapetrou said that by June it should become clear how the direct talks, which began in mid-January, are progressing, unless the two sides reach the point of signing an agreement by that time.

"What we are seeking is to see the Turkish side come to the next round of negotiations with a different political will, necessary to break the deadlock," the Spokesman said.

He welcomed the fact that the statement reiterates in a very clear manner the continuing firm interest of the Council in the direct talks and that it will be kept informed at regular intervals about the course of the negotiations.

Papapetrou said he was pleased the Council has indicated a timeframe within which this process should move and said June this year is a fair date to bear in mind in this regard.

Invited to comment on a call to both sides to show "a spirit of compromise" with a view to narrow existing differences, Papapetrou said it is early days in the peace process to draw any conclusions.

"We do not feel that this reference is addressed to us because right from the start we have maintained an absolutely constructive attitude in this process and we shall continue to display this approach," Papapetrou said.

The Security Council expressed full support for the Secretary General's mission of good offices granted to him by the Council, in resolution 1250, which says that there should be no preconditions to the talks, that all issues should be on the table, both sides should make a commitment to negotiate in good faith until a settlement is reached and that there should be full consideration of relevant UN resolutions.

UN Chief Kofi Annan's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, having briefed the Council, returns tomorrow to the island for the resumption of the talks on Friday morning.

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