Cyprus President expects some move by UNSG in the near future
by Maria Myles
New York, Sep 18 (CNA) -- Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said here today he expects ''some move'' by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan ''in the near future'' with regard to a renewed peace initiative towards a negotiated settlement.
Speaking at a press conference after his address to the 60th session of the UN General Assembly, he said any such initiative must be well prepared to help ensure a successful outcome and any time limits to the talks must be dictated by their pace and any progress achieved and not by outside factors.
He said the European Union, which Cyprus joined last year, must have a more active involvement in a fresh peace effort and pointed out that he would not accept any solution that could lead to two separate states on the island, adding that Turkish troops must be withdrawn as part of a solution.
The President also pointed out that, unlike the period following the rejection of the latest UN solution plan by the Greek Cypriots in April 2004, now everybody appreciates that changes will have to be made to this plan, which at the time was described by various circles as ''uniquely balanced and fair.''
Asked by CNA if we are closer to the start of a new initiative, he said that UN efforts are not a one off exercise ''but a sustained effort being even now exercised in a number of ways, not necessarily by having the two sides sitting across the table and carrying on negotiations.''
He repeated that any new effort has to be very well prepared, adding that ''there should be a calculated prospect of an agreement being probably or within reach, as another failed effort would not be in the interest of anybody.''
Asked if any time table has been set for the start of a renewed effort, he replied ''we are far away from that. I expect some move by the Secretary General in the near future.''
He also said that no tight time limits should be set for a new round of negotiations but open-ended talks are not the goal either.
''The pace of talks and any time limits will be dictated solely by the needs and the progress of the negotiations, not be extraneous elements'', such as the date of Cyprus' accession (May 1) or the start of Turkey's accession talks (3 October 2005), he pointed out.
Responding to questions, he said that the one basic issue which is non negotiable is ''the occupation of Cyprus by Turkey, which must come to an end.''
''We will not accept a solution which will lead to the creation of two separate states, entities, whatever you may wish to call them, on the island. I do not believe it will be in the interest of the population of Cyprus,'' he said.
Asked if all Turkish troops must be gone before a plan can be agreed, the President explained that the withdrawal of the occupation troops must be part of the agreement for a political settlement.
''It would be a paradox if we agree to a compromise solution and make a number of sacrifices for the purpose of ending the invasion and the occupation and in spite of it all the occupation would be continued,'' he said.
He explained that in the last UN-proposed solution plan, unlike in its previous drafts, a small number of troops would remain in Cyprus.
''The important aspect is not only the number of troops which remain but also the powers that they would have, a powerful intervention, which would have been enhanced as to what are the powers which the contingents of Greece and Turkey have under the 1960 Treaties'' that established the Republic of Cyprus, he added.
He said it would be ''unreasonable'' after all the compromises the Greek Cypriot side has made to have these rights of intervention being enhanced and perpetuated.
Responding to questions about a possible new approach to the Cyprus peace effort, he said the solution in Cyprus would be under the aegis of the UN but since Cyprus' accession to the European Union many aspects of the problem touch upon provisions of the acquis communautaire.
''It is therefore inevitable that in any new round of talks, the EU should have a more active role in the discussions,'' he said, adding that the EU could be most helpful in guiding the parties as to what would be compatible with the acquis, which will have to be applied after a solution.
Responding to another question, he said he has outlined all the points of areas of serious concern for the Greek Cypriots to the Secretary General through his representatives, a development that resulted in the UN saying that ''we have stated our concerns in detail, fully and in finality.''
He explained that in outlining his areas of concern and raising the points that need to be changed in the Annan plan, ''in certain aspects we went one step further and stated possible alternative solution to that problem.''
''Nobody any longer raises that issue,'' he added.
To other questions about any changes following the rejection of the Annan plan and Cyprus' EU accession, the President said that accession has not necessarily changed the events but more people now realise that the Greek Cypriots have not rejected the UN plan in an arbitrary manner or turned down a solution by rejecting that particular plan.
''The general view prevailing after the referenda (April 2004) was that the Annan plan was uniquely balanced and fair. I believe that now this is no longer the case, everybody appreciates that changes must be made to the new concept of a solution that has to come about,'' he concluded.
In his opening remarks the President referred to his contacts at the UN seat here saying the Secretary General had assured him that his effort towards a settlement ''is and is going to be a sustained one and he will decide when and how the reactivation of the talks will take place and the type in which this initiative would be manifested.''
President Papadopoulos leaves New York Monday at 0900 local time for Cyprus via London.