United Nations.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said he intents to bring back before the Security Council his report issued after the Cyprus referenda in April last year aiming at its endorsement. In his report Annan blames Greek Cypriot side and President Papadopoulos as responsible for the failure of last year’s initiative and ask for easing the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, as a reward for voting in favor of his plan.
Speaking on Thursday, at a joint press conference with Turkish Premier Tayiip Erdogan, the UN SG added that next steps on the Cyprus issue would be decided after the Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Political Affairs Sir Kieran Prendergast briefs him on his mission to Cyprus, Greece and Turkey where he was sent to make an assessment on the current situation.
Speaking after the working lunch Erdogan expressed disappointment over the fact that an endorsement of the report is still pending, adding that the Turkish side’s expectation in Cyprus ”is to have a comprehensive, long-lasting and just peace and settlement”.
The Turkish Premier did not set the endorsement of the report as a condition to support a new UN initiative on Cyprus.
Annan and Erdogan said that they had good discussions on the UN reform, Cyprus and the situation in Iraq.
Responding to a question, regarding easing the so called isolation on Turkish Cypriots, Secretary-General noted that there were proposals in the plan he put forward about easing the isolation, expressing the hope that the EU and others will find a way support the Turkish – occupied northern Cyprus, as they have indicated so.
As regards Sir Kieran’s tour to the region Annan said ”he visited Cyprus – both the Greek Cypriot side and also the North, Turkish Cypriot side. Then he went on to Turkey and to Greece, and we were able to discuss the prospects for future peace in the region”.
Premier Erdogan said it was very meaningful for the Turkish side to be able to meet the UN SG after Prendergast’s visit to Cyprus. ”As a guarantor country on the issue of Cyprus, we had an opportunity to evaluate the situation,” he said.
Referring to the Cyprus issue he said there is a process, which was initiated by the Turkish side together with the Secretary-General in Davos.
”With regard to the settlement of the Cyprus issue at the time, we had said that we would always be one step ahead of the Greek Cypriots, and we have fulfilled that promise” said Erdogan referring to the referenda in Cyprus which led to the approval of Annan’s plan by the Turkish Cypriots and its rejection by the Greek Cypriots.
He said that even though the Greek Cypriots voted ”no” they ”were accepted as an EU member. But the isolation on the other hand for the Turkish Cypriots is still ongoing”.
As regards the report prepared by Kofi Annan on May 28th last year, he expressed disappointment that it is still pending and ”the United Nations Security Council has not yet endorsed it”.
”We believe that a decision has to be reached, an endorsement has to happen, and we are looking for a positive outcome in this respect. Our expectation in Cyprus is to have a comprehensive, long-lasting and just peace and settlement”, the Turkish Prime Minister said.
Asked whether he plans to have a new initiative after meeting the Turkish Prime Minister he said he was happy Prendergast was able to go to the region.
”He has just come back and submitted his report to me, which I am going to study very carefully to decide what the next steps should be”, Kofi Annan said.
With regard to the report, the UN SG submitted last year, Annan said ”you heard the Prime Minister express his disappointment. This is an issue I will take up with the Council again when I brief them on the status of my good offices, and hope that they will take action on it”.
Responding to a question, regarding easing the so called isolation on Turkish Cypriots, Secretary-General noted that there were proposals in the plan ”I put forward about easing the isolation”, adding that ”the European Union and others indicated that they will want to give assistance and support to Northern Cyprus, and I hope they will find a way of doing that”.
He further noted that there are governments thinking of certain initiatives, underlining that ”the first hurdle will be to work with the Council on that report, and get their endorsement of the report”.
Asked if there is any change that will make him de-freeze his good offices mission Annan said his good offices have always been available. ”It was a question of the environment, the appropriateness and the readiness of the parties to engage, and engage meaningfully, so that we can make progress”, he said.
As far as what has happened during the period following the referenda, Annan noted that the Greek Cypriots are now in the European Union and that he has sent Prendergast to the region, to make an assessment and come back ”and report to me, and I will decide what the next steps should be”.
”And I couldn’t rush ahead last year, at the end of the referendum, when the Turkish Cypriots voted for it, and the Greek Cypriots voted ‘no’. We needed to have a pause, and get people to reflect, and let the situation calm down and make an assessment, and this is what we have done”, the UN SG concluded.
The Security Council will reconsider a report on Cyprus, it rejected last year, with a view at giving support and advice to the UN Secretary General on his future moves, UN deputy spokesman Stephan Dujaric said on Friday.
The spokesman refrained from commenting on statements by Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou that Nicosia had protested Kofi Annan’s remarks to ask the Council to reconsider his May 2004 report, which the Council rejected at the time.
”The Secretary General is currently considering what steps to take in pursuing his good offices mission on Cyprus, following the pulse taking visit by Sir Kieran Prendergast in the region,” the spokesman said.
He said that Annan had been fully briefed on the concerns and views of all parties, including the concerns of the Greek Cypriots that led them to reject his solution plan last year as well as the concerns of the Turkish Cypriots about the situation they found themselves despite the approval of his plan.
”Any steps the SG takes in the pursuit of his mission of good offices will be based on his assessment on how best to assist the parties to find, as only they can, a mutually acceptable settlement that can be approved by the people on each side,” Dujaric said.
In this context the S.G. reported to the S.C. in May of last year on his mission of good offices and the SC would normally respond to such reports in order to give the S.G. support and advice as to the future, he said.
Asked to comment on Iacovou’s statement in response to Annan’s remarks, he said he really had nothing further to add.
Iacovou said Cyprus protested the Secretary General’s remarks and sought clarifications, pointing out that Annan’s statements were made as a fresh attempt was underway to help resume negotiations for a political settlement.
Responding to questions about the purpose of resubmitting the report to the Security Council, Dujaric replied: ”for the S.C. to reconsider the report. It would only be normal for the S.C. to respond and give the S.G. the support and advice on his good offices mission.”
The spokesman refrained from making any hypothesis on what may or may not happen in the future.