Members of the United Nations Security Council today called for intensified efforts to settle the Cyprus problem.
In a statement to the press read out by Council President Alfonso Valdivieso of Colombia, Council members commended Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the initiative he took in recent months to bridge the gap between the two sides and to enable them to reach an agreement. The members expressed the view that the proposal he put forward on 11 November, as revised on 10 December, provided a “unique opportunity to reach a settlement in the coming weeks.”
Council members also voiced “regret that the Turkish Cypriot leadership has not responded in a timely way” to Mr. Annan’s initiatives, and called for “its constructive efforts to reach a settlement in conformity with the timetable proposed by the Secretary-General.”
Welcoming the willingness of both sides to continue the negotiations in the period ahead, the statement underlined the importance of intensifying the talks so that full agreement will be reached before 28 February 2003, in conformity with the timetable proposed by the Secretary-General.
Council members urged both sides to work on the basis of the Secretary-General’s revised proposal, drawing attention to the “unique opportunities that existed for the settlement of this long-running problem and to the benefits for all concerned from so doing, so that all Cypriots can benefit from Cyprus’ accession to the European Union,” the President said.
All concerned were urged to seize “the historic opportunity to bring a peaceful, just and lasting settlement to the Cyprus problem for the benefit of all these people and the wider region,” he said, adding that Council members gave their full backing to the continuation of the Secretary-General’s mission of good offices and his effort to bring about a settlement in the first two months of 2003.
The press statement followed a closed-door briefing by Alvaro de Soto, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Cyprus. “There’s a lot of work to be done in the 10 weeks ahead, and it will be done,” he told reporters following the consultations. “My colleagues are on the island and we hope that we achieve success in the time remaining.”
The envoy reported that the Secretary-General “has written to the two leaders today, as well as to the leaders of Greece and Turkey, setting out the road ahead as he sees it, and the work that needs to be done, and drawing their attention to the need to move fairly quickly on a number of issues that are pending.”
Mr. de Soto voiced hope that “at least some preliminary work” could begin “even this week.”