UNITED NATIONS.- GreekNews
Cypriot leaders are arriving in New York today, at the invitation of the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, to meet with him at the United Nations headquarters for one day talks, aiming to revive negations for a solution, before May 1st, of the 30 year old problem that keeps the island divided. UN chief Kofi Annan has written to the leaders of both the Turkish and Greek communities on Cyprus, inviting them to New York on February 10 to resume negotiations for a settlement.
Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, with his entourage, will be flying to New York, responding to Kofi Annan’s invitation. House of Representative President Dimitris Christofias, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides, and party leaders, Nicos Anastasiadis of Democratic Rally and Yiannakis Omirou of Socialist EDEK will accompany him.
The Greek Cypriot side supports the UN Secretary General’s efforts to reach a Cyprus settlement and thus President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos, with his entourage, will be flying to New York for a meeting with the UN chief on Tuesday, responding to Kofi Annan’s invitation.
Turkish Cypriot leader Raouf Denktash said that he planned to attend the New Yorks talks, but maintained his objections to a renewed rush for a deal. At the same time, Ankara changing tone calls on US to interfere. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdulah Gul raised Turkey’s objections to the Annan process with US Secretary of State Colin Powell in a telephone Friday, while Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called US President George W Bush.
“We are going to reply in writing to the secretary general today or tomorrow. If the news coming from Turkey is positive, we’ll probably leave for New York on Monday,” Denktash told reporters on his return to the island from talks in Ankara. The Turkish Cypriot leader says the Swiss-style federation foreseen by the United Nations does not go far enough towards enshrining the breakaway state that he declared in 1983 and which is recognised only by Ankara.
Mehmet Ali Talat, so called “Prime Minister” will also travel in New York and according to sources, he will sit at the table, if Denktash refuses.
After a meeting of the National Council, top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus problem, on Saturday, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides read out an announcement, saying that the Council’s members expressed their views and suggestions, and the President, ”taking into consideration the suggestions and opinions expressed, will handle the issues in New York”.
”Our side reiterates its policy and readiness to back the UN Secretary General’s effort in seeking a solution of the Cyprus problem and the President of the Republic with his entourage will attend the meeting with the UN Secretary General in New York”, he added.
The Spokesman noted that Saturday’s meeting was held in a spirit of responsibility and understanding. ”There was a broad exchange of views and an in depth discussion of all relevant aspects, and issues of substance and procedure were discussed”, he said.
Turkey has asked the United States to use its weight with the United Nations to help overcome what Ankara sees as “procedural” problems in a new push for a settlement to the division of Cyprus, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said.
Gul told the CNN-Turk news channel that Ankara was not satisfied with some of the terms of Annan’s invitation.
“There are some things in this letter that we do not like… They are related to procedure,” the minister said.
Gul explained that he had broached the issue with US Secretary of State Colin Powell in a telephone call today, while Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called US President George W Bush.
“We expect from them (US leaders) some steps for things to develop the way we want them to… Undoubtedly, they are engaged with it now,” he added.
Annan’s letter, which has been leaked to the press, requires the two sides to agree in advance to accept him as final arbiter of any issues they cannot settle by negotiation and to put the compromise draft to separate but simultaneous referendums in the two communities on April 21.
Gul said that Annan also wanted the island’s guarantor states – Turkey, Greece and Britain – to approve the compromise draft before they are put to referenda in Cyprus.
“There are some unclear things such as this in the letter,” he said, without giving any more details.
Gul added that Ankara’s efforts were yielding a positive result and would enable Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to go to New York.
“There will be no problems in going to New York on Monday,” Gul said.
The UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, briefed the five permanent members of the Security Council on Friday, on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem and the UN chief’s decision to call the two parties on the island to talks.
The meeting was short and de Soto handed the five permanent members copies of Kofi Annan’s invitation to the two sides. Annan will brief the Security Council on Monday, during an informal meeting.
Despite the fact that the initial thoughts were not to seek the Security Council’s involvement, as the support provided by Resolution 1475 was considered quite strong, it was deemed necessary to brief the Council after complaints by the Russian Permanent Representative that the body should be informed on an important development, such as the resumption of negotiations on Cyprus.
During the meeting, de Soto reassured that everything was being carried out on the basis of Security Council indications, as defined in Resolution 1475. Meanwhile, the stance of the Turkish Cypriot side featured in the briefing by the UN chief’s Deputy Spokesman Stephane Dujarric. He said he had ”no updates as of a short while ago on official confirmations to the invitation” by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.
Asked if there was any indication whether the Turkish Cypriot side would be represented by Rauf Denktash or someone else, Dujarric said ”we have not received any formal indication from the invitees as to exactly who will attend”.
Commenting on a statement by Denktash that the UN was exerting a lot of pressure and that this was not a negotiating strategy, Dujarric said ”letters went out to both Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders, invitation letters went out to both of them on Wednesday, inviting them to come here to resume negotiations on the basis of the Secretary General’s plan and the objective of the negotiations will be to put a completed text to referenda in April 2004 in time for reunited Cyprus to exceed to the EU on May 1st 2004”.
”So I don’t have any specific remarks whether this constitutes undue pressure, all I can tell you is that invitations were sent out to both the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot leader”, he added.
Asked about the agenda of Tuesday’s meeting, he said ”let us get the meeting started and then we can see how long these things last, we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves”.
The US has welcomed the invitation by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to the parties in Cyprus to go to New York February 10 for a meeting which marks the resumption of peace talks on Cyprus, with a view at finding a negotiated settlement before the country accedes to the European Union on May 1 this year.
US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said State Department’s special coordinator for Cyprus Ambassador Thomas Weston will be in New York on Tuesday for the talks.
Mr. Boucher reiterated US strong support for the good offices mission of the Secretary General and urged the parties to do likewise so as to assure that a settlement can be reached and a united Cyprus can enter the EU on May first.