Annan presents Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot leaders plan to settle Cyprus question

Annan presents Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot leaders plan to settle Cyprus question

Annan speaking to the press
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today gave to the Greek Cypriot leader, Glafcos Clerides, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, a document providing a "basis for agreement" on a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

"I think the parties know what I have put before them and they are going to study it," the Secretary-General told reporters after briefing the Security Council behind closed doors this afternoon. He added that he had asked the two sides to give their reactions to the text by 18 November.

"We've had to look at many issues and many different possible options and I believe I've put before them what I consider a sound and optimal proposal," said Mr. Annan, who did not rule out the need for future meetings with the parties. "I know it's going be a tough decision for them. It's going to require courage, wisdom and vision, and I'm confident they are capable of it."

The Secretary-General said in a response to a question that his role "is that of a helper, expediter" to get the two side to come to a comprehensive agreement. "I think they realize we have a limited opportunity as we move forward, that there is a unique time in the possibility of getting a united Cyprus into the European Union," he said.

Reacting to the Secretary-General's announcement, the Council President for the month of November, Ambassador Zhang Yishan of China, said in a press statement that the 15-member body welcomed Mr. Annan's "decision [to propose the text] and reaffirmed their full support for the continuation of the Secretary-General's mission of good offices."

Copies of the document have also been given to Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom in their capacity as guarantor powers under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee. A spokesman for the Secretary-General noted that Mr. Annan has asked the two Cypriot leaders not to take a formal public position on what he has submitted to them but instead to take some time to consider them. "[He] hopes that they will exercise the necessary discretion in this regard," the spokesman said.