Grossman: There will be another chance to consider a unified island
UNITED NATIONS.- by Apostolos Zoupaniotis
The US Government officially ended the policy of penalizing Greek Cypriot side and President Papadopoulos, recognizing for the first time that there will be another chance to consider a unified Cyprus. At the same time, after the meetings of President Papadopoulos with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that the 5 permanent members of the Security Council and the talks by Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, with Kofi Annan, US Secretary of State Colin Powell and his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul, the Secretary General has promised to reconsider the possibility of sending in the area an envoy, (by the end of October, beginning of November) on an exploratory mission.
All sides agree that no new initiative should be expected to start before the new year.
Kofi Annan will seek a green light by Turkey, when he will talk with the Turkish Foreign Minister, today (Monday) at 3 pm.
The US remains interested and committed to find a fair solution to the Cyprus problem, pledged Marc Grossman, US Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs, after being received on Friday by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, noting there will be another chance over the next period for people to consider a unified Cyprus.
Grossman said he and Elizabeth Jones, US Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, had a 90-minute meeting with the President, which he described as “friendly and useful”.
Observing that he found President Papadopoulos to be “as always, a very serious and thoughtful person”, one of the things that “really struck me about the conversation was that on a number of occasions he wanted to convey to us that he was not a believer in the division of the island and he hopes that someday and someday soon, all Cypriots can live together”.
Grossman said “I think that’s exactly our sentiment”, adding that the reason they visited the President “was to say to him that the United States of America still remains interested and committed and if we can, get actively involved in finding some fair solution to this problem”.
Asked if the Annan Plan is the only plan on the table, Grossman replied “it is not for us to come to the President and say this, this and this”.
He explained “there was a democratic vote in Cyprus. The people voted against the Annan Plan and what the President was trying to convey to us tonight, was that he is interested in a solution, he is interested in a unified island and therefore from his perspective the requirement that we convince those people on Cyprus who voted no, then the next time they should vote ‘yes’”.
Asked if he believed there would be a new referendum, Grossman said, “I do not mean that there is going to be another exactly the same way we did it the last time. But do I think there is going to be another chance over the next period for people again to think about a unified Cyprus and debate a unified Cyprus and consider a unified Cyprus? Absolutely”.
Asked if shuttle diplomacy will take place, the American official said he did not think so, stressing that the President’s “point here was right which was that we went through a period of intense effort. There were votes on both sides of the island and now people need to reflect a little bit about. I think he said it very well. He said you had a certain number, 40,000 Turkish Cypriots who voted yes, you had 90,000 Greek Cypriots who voted yes but you had a very large number of Greek Cypriots who voted no, so the question is, if you’re interested as he is and I think we are, in a unified island, what does it take to make the majority of both sides to vote ‘yes’? And people have to think that through. That’s a big question and a fair one”.
To a question if relations between the US and the Cypriot president have been restored, bearing in mind that the feeling was that there was intention to penalize Greek Cypriots for their vote, Grossman said he really disagree with that.
The US diplomat said he told President Papadopoulos that “among the things that we have never done, never intended to do, nor our policy, was to punish anybody. And I actually challenge anyone to show me anything that we have done, which is a punishment to anyone and so, with respect, I do not accept that, we have never been in the business of punishing. We are in the business of trying to move forward here and trying to do that in a fair and equitable way”, Grossman said.
Referring to Turkey’s EU course, Grossman replied that the US has always maintained that “Turkey, that has got a date to begin negotiations, is then a Turkey with a European perspective and a Turkey with a European perspective should, it seems to me, be good for Cyprus and be good for Greece and be good for Turkey and be good for the United States”.
Meanwhile, speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations, President Papadopoulos explained the reasons the Greek Cypriot side rejected the Annan Plan in the 24th April referendum, noting it did not respond to the minimum requirements and expectations.
The President answered a number of questions, which included Cyprus’ position as EU member, regarding Turkey’s accession course, specific aspects of the Annan Plan, the settlers’ issue and their relations with the Turkish Cypriot community as well as the repercussions of accession in a future settlement.
President Papadopoulos concluded his visit to New York with a speech at a gathering of the Cyprus Federation of America. Yesterday he departed 26 for Brussels, where he will hold an official working visit on September 28, at the invitation of Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofsfadt.
MEETING THE P5
Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has ascertained an important change of climate over the Cyprus positions, following his talks on Friday with the permanent representatives of the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council.
The Cypriot president hosted a lunch for the representatives of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council at the UN headquarters, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Speaking to Greek reporters, President Papadopoulos said he believed “there is an important change of climate. Our positions are now coming across”, adding that “this does not mean they will change policy”.
The Cypriot President did not want to comment on reports that the UN Secretary-General is considering the possibility of sending an envoy to the region. However, he pointed out “the UN Secretary-General’s mission of good offices, which was given by the Security Council has not ceased. The mission remains, the way to implement it depends on the Secretary-General”.
The President of the Republic of Cyprus repeated, “our side believes that efforts should be made to create the proper climate allowing a resumption of some moves”, adding that both he and Kofi Annan “agreed to reflect on this and talk again. I believe he does not think that we are at the end of the road», the Cypriot president noted.”
President Papadopoulos said they also examined the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces in Cyprus as well as the confidence building measures for Turkish Cypriots.
The “five” members who attended were the Permanent Representatives of Britain, Emyr Jones Parry, China, Jua Nyug, Russia, Andrey Denisov and deputy Permanent Representatives of France and the US, Michel Duclo and Stuart Holiday.
Foreign Minister George Iacovou, Permanent Representative of Cyprus Andreas Mavroyiannis, Director of the Diplomatic Office of the Cyprus President, Tasos Tzionis and deputy Permanent Representative Andreas Hadzichrysanthou represented the Cypriot side.