ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN CYPRUS, 26 - 28 FEBRUARY
Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived in Larnaca, Cyprus, in the afternoon of Wednesday, 26 February.
In his opening statement to the press upon his arrival, Mr. Annan said that he would present a revision of the agreement on Cyprus to the parties that afternoon, which he planned to discuss with them the following day.
He said, “I have come to Cyprus to tell you that the entire international community is hoping and praying that a Cyprus settlement, so long delayed, is at last at hand.” He added his hope that the Greek and Turkish Cypriots would understand the urgency of the task at hand, asserting, “It is no exaggeration to say that you have a rendezvous with destiny.”
The Secretary-General called first on His Excellency Glafcos Clerides, the Greek Cypriot leader, at his home. He followed that meeting with one with His Excellency Tassos Papadopoulos, the incoming Greek Cypriot leader, at the residence of the Chief of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.
He then met with His Excellency Rauf Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader, at the same residence. All the meetings lasted approximately one hour.
The following morning, the Secretary-General met with Messrs. Clerides, Denktash and Papadopoulos, for 45 minutes at his Special Adviser’s Office in the United Nations Protected Area.
This was the first face-to-face meeting between Messrs. Papadopoulos and Denktash in the context of talks.
The leaders agreed to suspend the meeting so that each side could hold its own consultations, and they agreed further to meet the Secretary-General again the following day.
The Secretary-General then conferred with his senior advisers before he departed to the residence of the Chief of the United Nations mission in Cyprus, where he met with Dimitris Christofias, leader of AKEL, the Progressive Party for the Working People.
Later on, the Chief of the United Nations mission, Zbigniew Wlosowicz, hosted a luncheon on behalf of the Secretary-General, attended by 13 leaders of the island’s political parties.
When he said good-bye at the door to the guests, Mr. Annan was asked by a journalist whether he was hopeful about the outcome of the talks. He told the reporter, “I see you are too young to be pessimistic. Why not?”
That evening, he dropped by an exhibition given by Greek and Turkish Cypriot artists held at his hotel.
On Friday morning, 28 February, the Secretary-General met again for over an hour with the leaders, Mr. Clerides, Mr. Denktash, and Mr. Papadopoulos who had been sworn in as the new Greek Cypriot leader a few hours earlier.
Afterwards, the Secretary-General spoke to the press in the presence of the three. He informed the waiting media that the leaders from both sides had accepted his invitation to come to The Hague on 10 March.
He would expect them to arrive prepared, there and then, to let him know whether or not they would sign a commitment to submit the Foundation Agreement to approval at separate simultaneous referenda on 30 March in order to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
Subsequently, in another statement at the airport, the Secretary-General said that he was very satisfied with the outcome of his mission and was convinced that all concerned understood that the holding of the referenda on 30 March was the key to a reunited Cyprus signing the Treaty of Accession on 16 April.
He called the Plan for Settlement “fair and balanced”, adding, “of course, it is a compromise, but all negotiated settlements require compromise”. He urged all concerned to “catch the tide before it turns, perhaps irreversibly”. (See Press Release SG/SM/8618.)
Responding to a question, the Secretary-General declared that “if the answer from one party or the other is ‘no’, there should be no doubt that we are at the end of the road”. It will be a sad day for the people of this island and the region, he added.
The Secretary-General then departed to New York, via London.
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