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Britain: core issues can be cracked by end of June
2002-05-21 10:27:25

Nicosia, May 21 (CNA) -- Britain has given its full backing to UN calls to the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides to reach an agreement by the end of June on the core issues that make up the Cyprus problem.

Lord David Hannay, London's special envoy for Cyprus, also warned of negative repercussions should the current peace effort fail and said Britain will give UN negotiators "unstinting support".

"We do indeed believe that, with political will and in a spirit of give and take, the back of the negotiations on the core issues can be broken by the end of June," Lord Hannay said in a speech at the London Europe Society.|

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan identified the core issues as governance, security, territory and property.

Hannay said the negotiations for a settlement have reached a "critical stage" and last week's visit to Cyprus by the UN Secretary General brought a "very welcome sense of direction and urgency to a process which had risked getting bogged down, like so many attempts before this one."

The British envoy said Annan has the full backing of the Security Council and certainly of London in his statement that agreement could and should be reached by the end-June target date the leaders of the two sides had earlier set.

President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash began direct talks, in the presence of Annan's special adviser Alvaro de Soto, in mid January this year. Denktash was the first to mention that by June an agreement should be reached, a view embraced by Clerides and the UN.

Hannay said that the benefits that could accrue to all concerned of a settlement being reached this year, when the European Union is poised to include Cyprus in the next wave of enlargement "are clear for all to see and are substantial, as are the negative consequences of a failure to reach a settlement."

He noted that the two sides in Cyprus, Greece and Turkey, the EU and the international community would benefit from a solution this year.

Lord Hannay said that the decisions will have to be taken by the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots.

"We will help where we can in the period ahead and will give unstinting support to the UN negotiators, whose skills and experience will be needed if a deal is to be reached," he said.

Britain has been a major player in the Cyprus peace effort, through its envoy. It maintains two military bases on the island since 1960 when Cyprus gained its independence from the former colonial power.

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

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