In Cyprus, Annan urges ‘decisive progress’ in period ahead
Arriving in Cyprus today, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for “decisive progress” in the period ahead.
The Secretary-General said the start nearly four months ago of direct talks between His Excellency Mr. Glafcos Clerides, the Greek Cypriot leader, and His Excellency Mr. Rauf Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader, have raised hopes greatly, not only in Cyprus, but also in the region and beyond.
“The two leaders, without any prompting from outside, set their sights on June to achieve their goal,” he said. “This target date, endorsed by the Security Council, is wholly appropriate if the chance which is now open is to be seized.”
At the same time, Mr. Annan said he shared the Security Council’s concern over the slow progress so far. “I have come to the island to highlight the great responsibility the two leaders have undertaken, and to urge them to forge ahead with a shared sense of urgency and a willingness to compromise in earnest,” he said. “I want also to discuss with them how they can move forward more effectively so as to resolve the main issues by the end of June.”
“This is an historic opportunity, and I am convinced that these two particular leaders, uniquely steeped in the history of this island, can rise to the occasion,” Mr. Annan stressed.
According to a UN spokesman, the Secretary-General conferred this evening with his Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, who has been assisting the two leaders in their direct talks over the past four months. Mr. Annan will meet with each of them separately tomorrow and then bring them together, at his invitation, over dinner, the spokesman added.