Press Releases

                                                                                                                            30 March 2004

    Now That We Have this Opportunity, “We Cannot Let It Pass”, Secretary-General Tells Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot Leaders

    NEW YORK, 29 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the opening statement by Secretary-General Kofi Annan as delivered at today’s meeting with the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leadership and the foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey in Bürgenstock, Switzerland:

    We are gathered in this magnificent location in accordance with the agreement reached last 13 February in New York.  There is a sense of destiny today.

    You are here to give a final push to the effort to solve the Cyprus problem, once and for all, on the basis of the plan I put forward on 26 February 2003.

    On 16 March I invited the Cyprus leaders to come here to continue the talks which began in Cyprus last 19 February.

    In my letter of invitation, I said that the leaders “should be in a position to make final commitments there and then”.

    “There and then” has become “here and now”.

    I welcome Mr Tassos Papadopoulos, the Greek Cypriot leader.

    I welcome Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat and Mr. Serdar Denktash, who have been given full powers on behalf of the Turkish Cypriots.

    I also welcome the Foreign Ministers of Greece and Turkey, Mr. Petros Molyviatis and Mr. Abdullah Gül, who came here at the beginning of the week, at my invitation, to lend their collaboration in a concentrated effort to agree on a final text.

    I am also heartened that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has arrived at Bürgenstock, and that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will join later today.

    Their presence here is a token of the importance -- regional and wider -- of the search for a settlement.

    Here, we have all the key players together.

    The entrenched policies of decades have already begun to give way.  As the snowfall subsided, the fog lifted, and the sun appeared at Bürgenstock, the ice broke.  I only wish that we had been able to bring this about earlier, when there was more time to spare. But now that we still have this opportunity, we cannot let it pass.

    You will each be receiving a sizeable draft text:  the proposed Comprehensive Settlement of the Cyprus Problem.  It represents a considered attempt to incorporate into my plan of 26 February 2003 as many as possible of the improvements sought by the parties, without upsetting its overall balance.

    There is nothing pre-cooked about this revision.  On the contrary, it has been worked on up until the last minute.  It has been constantly refined and adapted following our consultations with all concerned.

    We have tried to be helpful to each side in a manner compatible with the interests of the other.  Inevitably, it has not been possible to accommodate all proposals for amendment.  The result, as it must be, is an overall compromise.

    I am giving you this text to get your reactions as quickly as possible.

    I know you will wish to examine this draft with care.

    I will be available in the course of the day, as will my Special Adviser, Alvaro de Soto, and his team, to provide clarifications as necessary.

    I would appreciate formed reactions no later than tomorrow morning.  We will evaluate those reactions and see whether further adjustments are necessary to finalize the text, in contact with all of you, by Wednesday 31 March.

    The changes we have made to the plan are highlighted in the text.

    The proposed Comprehensive Settlement of the Cyprus Problem, includes:

    -- The Foundation Agreement

    -- The Constitutions of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot constituent states;

    -- The Treaty on matters related to the new state of affairs in Cyprus

    -- The Draft Act of Adaptation of the terms of accession of the United Cyprus Republic to the European Union;

    -- The matters to be submitted to the United Nations Security Council for decision; and

    -- The measures to be taken during April 2004.

    But there is something else before you today also -- a part of the Foundation Agreement which is, I believe, unprecedented in the history of United Nations peacemaking. You can see it right here before you.

    These are the completed proposed federal laws of the United Cyprus Republic -- 131 of them, running to 9,000 pages, as well as the list of 1,134 treaties that will bind the United Cyprus Republic.

    These documents are the best possible rebuttal of claims that the United Nations and other “foreign powers” are trying to impose a settlement on the Cypriots. They are the result of the Herculean efforts of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, working intensely and in unison for the reunification of their country.  I salute them.

    What we have witnessed are Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots pooling their great talent in search of common ends, while respecting each other’s identities.

    Nor could the United Nations have assisted the Cypriots to come this far without the help of experts from many institutions and governments.  They came from the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Deutsche Bundesbank, as well as the Governments of Canada, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.  I thank them all.  They worked happily and hard, as part of the team headed by my Special Adviser.

    In conclusion, allow me to address a few words directly to each of the parties:

    Mr Papadopoulos, the primary concern you have voiced has been to render the plan more functional and therefore more viable.  I believe that this revised plan is significantly improved on this score, particularly in relation to the workings of the federal government, the updated transitional arrangements, the changes to the property scheme, the adjustments to ensure the financial soundness of the plan, and, of course, the completed laws and treaties.

    You also sought assurances that the gains envisaged in the plan for the Greek Cypriots in terms of territory and troop reductions would be guaranteed.  You will find that these concerns have been addressed.

    Mr Talat and Mr Denktash, your overarching theme has been the need to strengthen bizonality.  You have used this term in more than a geographical sense.  For you, it covers the preservation of the security and identity of the Turkish Cypriot constituent state and the safety and dignity of its people.  You will find the text has significantly improved in this regard, particularly if you examine the provisions on property, residency, and voting for the Federal Senate.

    You have also sought assurances that people who have to relocate will be properly catered for, that the protections envisaged in the plan for the Turkish Cypriots will be legally secure, and that Turkey would be able to maintain a moderate military presence even after her accession to the European Union.  You will find these concerns addressed in the revised plan.

    Allow me to end by assuring you that the United Nations is committed to doing everything possible to help the Cypriots to reunite their country.  We have been working hard to prepare for a settlement, working with international donors and getting ready to take on new peacekeeping responsibilities.

    But meanwhile let us first focus on the text that is before us.  The bottom line for each of you separately, and both together, is this:  Is this revised plan better than the one on the basis of which you agreed to negotiate?  Does the package of improvements meet your core concerns?  Can it reassure your people and give them the courage to seize the chance of peace?  Does it respect the other side’s core interests?

    I believe it does.  I believe this is a win-win proposal.

    I believe that, from the unique vantage point of this gathering, you should be able to see the future of a Cyprus working for all its people.  For their sake, and for the sake of the generations that will follow, I hope you will act on that vision with the leadership your people deserve.

    Thank you very much.

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