ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN CYPRUS, 13 - 16 MAY

SG/T/2324
16 May 2002

ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN CYPRUS, 13 - 16 MAY

The Secretary-General left New York on Monday, 13 May, to start a trip which would take him to Cyprus, Indonesia and East Timor.  Having spent the night in London, England, he flew on to Cyprus on Tuesday morning. 

Upon arrival, he delivered a statement in which he noted that the direct talks between His Excellency Glafcos Clerides, the Greek Cypriot leader, and His Excellency Rauf Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader, had been ongoing for almost four months.  “The start of these talks raised hopes greatly,” he said, "not only in Cyprus, but also in the region and beyond."  However, he was concerned at the slow progress, he said, as were members of the Security Council.

The Secretary-General then stated that the purpose of his visit was to urge the two leaders to forge ahead with a shared sense of urgency and a willingness to compromise in earnest.  "I want also to discuss with them how they can move forward more effectively so as to resolve the main issues by the end of June," he added.

The Secretary-General did not take any questions from the waiting journalists, but said that he would be speaking to them once again on his departure.

On Wednesday, the Secretary-General met for an hour and a half with Mr. Clerides at his office.  Also present at the meeting were Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto and Mr. Pantelis Kouros.

In the afternoon at 3:30 p.m. the Secretary-General went to the office of Mr. Denktash for a meeting that lasted about two hours.  Also present at the meeting were Mr. de Soto and Mr. Ergun Olgun.

That evening the Secretary-General and his Special Adviser Alvaro de Soto held further talks with both leaders before hosting a working dinner for them at the residence of Zbigniew Wlosowicz, Chief of the United Nations Mission in Cyprus.  Emerging from three hours of talks and dinner, the Secretary-General said briefly to a waiting crowd of journalists:  "We had a very good meeting.  Everybody is satisfied."

On Thursday morning, the Secretary-General visited the headquarters of the United Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).  He was received by Acting Special Representative and Chief of Mission, Zbigniew Wlosowicz, and UNFICYP Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Jin Ha Hwang.  After inspecting a guard of honour and being briefed by the Chief of Mission and by UNFICYP Chief of Staff Col. Hamish Fletcher, the Secretary-General met with peacekeepers from UNFICYP contingents as well as with members of the United Nations civilian police.  He thanked them for their service and asked that they convey his best wishes to their families.

The Secretary-General, who was accompanied by his wife Nane, also met with the local and international staff of UNFICYP and United Nations agencies in Cyprus.  He was welcomed by a local staff representative.  In response, the Secretary-General told the assembled staff how happy he was to be among them, saying, "You are the ones who give the United Nations its face."

Following a tour of the United Nations Protected Area (UNPA), including a brief stop at the Nicosia International Airport, the Secretary-General proceeded to the old city of Nicosia.  There, members of UNFICYP's Sector 2 British contingent escorted the Secretary-General and his party on a 40-minute walking tour along a section of the buffer zone known as the “Green Line”, which divides the old city.

The Secretary-General also met that morning at his hotel with the United States Ambassador to Cyprus, Donald Bandler, and with the British High Commissioner, Lynn Parker.

In a statement to the press before his departure from Larnaca Airport,    Mr. Annan said he was "sobered" by the challenge of helping the two sides reach agreement, "but even more deeply convinced that this is the time to press on."  He added, "I come away from Cyprus with the commitment of both leaders to go about this effort in a genuine spirit of give and take."  He said he was convinced that the core issues -- governance, security, territory and property -- could be resolved by the end of June.  And he called on the two "motherlands" -- Greece and Turkey -- to provide "sustained and constructive support."

In a question and answer session, he said he was aware that Mr. Denktash had indicated that June was too soon.  "I think it can be done if the will is there," he commented.  He said that when he had visited the line dividing Cyprus, he saw in the eyes of the people on the street that they would want to see peace on the island.  "It was interesting," he said.  "I had come to encourage them, but wherever I went they were encouraging me and praying for peace."

The Secretary-General then flew from Cyprus to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, from where he would travel to Indonesia and later to East Timor.  At the airport in Dubai he had the opportunity to meet with senior Government officials.

For information media. Not an official record.