Press Releases

    9 June 2004

    Final Chance for Cyprus to Enter European Union As United Country Missed, with Greek Cypriot Rejection of Settlement, Security Council Told

    Alvaro De Soto, Briefing Council, Says Achievement of Long Effort Must Be Built on to Keep Alive Prospects of Future Reunification

    NEW YORK, 8 June (UN Headquarters) -- With the rejection of the settlement plan by Greek Cypriots, the final opportunity to ensure that Cyprus acceded to the European Union as a united country rather than a divided one had been missed, and as the current standoff remained, the Secretary-General did not see any basis for resuming his active good offices, Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto told the Security Council this morning.

    He recalled that when the Foundation Agreement, contained in the plan, was submitted to separate simultaneous referenda on 24 April, it had been rejected on the Greek Cypriot side by a margin of three to one, and approved on the Turkish Cypriot side by a margin of two to one. The plan, therefore, did not enter into force.

    Throughout the effort, which began in late 1999, the goal had been to bring about a settlement through a decision of the people on each side, he said. The people had at last decided for themselves. Their decision, on each side, must be respected. While the ultimate outcome of the effort of the past four and a half years had not been a success, a great deal had nevertheless been achieved.

    Those achievements should be built on, and a number of elements put in place, to keep alive the prospects of reconciliation and reunification in the future, he said. The Security Council, which had so strongly backed the Secretary-General’s efforts, had an important role to play in that regard.

    A broad and fundamental reassessment of the full range of United Nations peace activities in Cyprus, both good offices and peacekeeping, is timely, he stated. In his report on the United Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), the Secretary-General had outlined his intention to conduct a review, to be completed within three months, of the Force’s mandate, force levels and concept of operations, in light of the developments on the ground, the position of the parties, and any views the Security Council might have.

    The Secretary-General had also indicated his hope that Greek Cypriots would reflect on the outcome of the process in the coming months, he continued. It was necessary to have a better understanding of the reasons for their strong rejection of the plan, which was based on the vision of the Council as formulated over a quarter of a century, if future efforts were to have any hope of bearing fruit, as well as how the Greek Cypriot side saw the way forward. In particular, it was important to know if questions of security and implementation were, indeed, the main concern, and if so, what could be done by the Council to address them.

    The Secretary-General, Mr. de Soto said, had encouraged the Council to stand ready to do so, if those concerns could be articulated with clarity and finality. He emphasized that what was rejected on 24 April was a comprehensive plan for a settlement, ready for implementation, with nothing further to be negotiated, rather than a framework or set of principles for future negotiations.

    The Secretary-General had also welcomed the fact that the Turkish Cypriots, in approving the plan, had unequivocally signalled their commitment to reunification, he said. That was more than a mere expression of good will for a solution to the Cyprus problem. The Turkish Cypriot people had clearly backed away from their search for separate sovereign statehood. That was a fundamental turnabout in the direction taken by the Turkish Cypriot side for two decades. Thus, the Secretary-General had recommended that the Council should encourage the Turkish Cypriots, and Turkey, to remain committed to that goal.

    The Secretary-General, he added, had called on the Council to give a strong lead to all States to cooperate both bilaterally and in international bodies to eliminate unnecessary restrictions and barriers that had the effect of isolating the Turkish Cypriots and impeding their development.

    The meeting, which began at 10:22 a.m., adjourned at 10:35 a.m.


    When the Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Cyprus, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations operation in Cyprus (document S/2004/427), in which he recommends a six-month extension of the United Nations operation in that country (UNFICYP), while pledging a review before the mid-point aimed at adapting its mandate to the prevailing circumstances. He notes that the situation along the ceasefire lines remains calm, while people from both sides continue to regularly pass through the crossing points.

    Following the referenda of 24 April -- when voters failed to adopt a reunification plan -- consultations have been conducted with both sides on the island and the guarantor powers, according to the report. "I remain convinced that, in the absence of a comprehensive settlement, the presence of UNFICYP on the island continues to be necessary for the maintenance of the ceasefire", the Secretary-General asserts.

    Greek Cypriots rejected and Turkish Cypriots approved the plan, which would have created a United Cyprus Republic, composed of a Greek Cypriot constituent state and a Turkish Cypriot constituent state linked by federal government. Given this "watershed" event, the Secretary-General says he will conduct a review, to be completed within three months, of UNFICYP's mandate, force levels and concept of operations, "in the light of developments on the ground, the positions of the parties and any views the Security Council might have".

    Based on this exercise, he says he will make recommendations on any UNFICYP adjustments or restructuring that may be required. Meanwhile, the Secretary-General urges the Turkish Cypriot authorities to provide full freedom of movement for UNFICYP so that it can carry out its mandate more effectively.

    Also before the Council is the Secretary-General’s report on his mission of good offices in Cyprus (document S/2004/437), in which he underscores the need for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus question while noting that as long as the current stalemate continues there is "no apparent basis for resuming the good offices" effort. He states that the rejection of a settlement plan put to referenda on the island represents “another missed opportunity” to resolve the Cyprus problem. While noting that the decision of the Greek Cypriots to vote no on the plan must be respected, he calls it “a major setback”.

    The decision of the Turkish Cypriots, who voted yes, is to be welcomed, he continues. “The Turkish Cypriot vote has undone any rationale for pressuring and isolating them”, he observes. He hopes that Council members can lead the effort to eliminate unnecessary barriers against Turkish Cypriots not for the purposes of affording recognition or assisting secession, but as a positive contribution to the goal of reunification. A lasting solution, he asserts, requires more than a comprehensive and carefully balanced peace plan. “It also needs bold and determined political leadership on both sides in the island, as well as in Greece and Turkey, all in place at the same time, ready to negotiate with determination and to convince their people of the need to compromise.”

    Although the plan, having been rejected by the Greek Cypriots, is legally null and void, its acceptance by the Turkish Cypriot electorate “means that the shape of any final settlement to reunify Cyprus would appear to be set”, he says. Cypriots from all walks of life who worked with courage and determination to achieve a settlement must continue their efforts, he emphasizes. “The prospects for the reunification of their country now rest primarily in their hands.”

    He adds that given the watershed that has been reached in efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem, a review of the full range of United Nations peace activities in Cyprus is timely.

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