Although 'unique opportunity' missed, Cyprus plan remains on table, Annan says

Although 'unique opportunity' missed, Cyprus plan remains on table, Annan says

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United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a new report released today that his plan to enable a united Cyprus to join the European Union remains on the table but that he will not undertake any new initiatives to reach a deal until he sees that the political will necessary for a successful outcome exists.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a new report released today that his plan to enable a united Cyprus to join the European Union remains on the table but that he will not undertake any new initiatives to reach a deal until he sees that the political will necessary for a successful outcome exists.

"I have already indicated publicly that I do not believe that such an opportunity will occur any time soon. I do believe, however, that it would be a great step backward if the plan as such were to simply wither away," the Secretary-General says in a report to the Security Council on his more than three-year mission of good offices in Cyprus, referring to a comprehensive settlement plan first put forward late last year.

Last month, the Secretary-General met with the Greek Cypriot leader, Tassos Papadopoulos, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, in The Hague in a failed last-minute bid to gain their approval of his proposals, which would have led to the holding of separate and simultaneous referenda in time for a reunited Cyprus to sign the EU Treaty of Accession on 16 April.

In his analysis of what he described as a "unique opportunity" missed, the Secretary-General says Mr. Denktash "bears prime responsibility" for the failure of this latest UN effort to resolve the decades-long problem. "Except for a very few instances, Mr. Denktash by and large declined to engage in negotiation on the basis of give and take," he writes. "This greatly complicated my efforts to accommodate not only the legitimate concerns of principle but also the concrete and practical interests of the Turkish Cypriots."

However, Mr. Annan also notes the failure of the Greek Cypriot leadership to explain to the public that the choice was not between "a compromise along the lines of a plan that I put forward and a better one, but between that and no settlement at all."

One of the obstacles to solving the Cyprus problem has been the perception on both sides that this was a zero-sum game, the Secretary-General observes. "I am strongly convinced that, had it been accepted, my proposal would have created a win-win situation," he says. "I am equally, and sadly, convinced that while the current outcome in the short term my be a greater setback for some than for others, ultimately all are losers in the failure of the recent effort. It is in the interests of all - Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Greece and Turkey - that there should be a settlement of the Cyprus problem."