The New York "Proximity Talks"

September - December 1984

In conformity with the provision of Security Council resolution 550/1984 the U.N. Secretary-General Mr. de Cuellar initiated new efforts aiming at the resumption of negotiations and the breaking of the impasse. In August 1984 he met in Vienna with the representatives of the two sides. At this meeting he outlined to both parties a series of "working points" with a view to ascertaining whether these might provide the basis for convening high-level proximity talks under his auspices as a means of pursuing the effort to find a fair and lasting Cyprus settlement. On August 31, 1984 both sides responded favourably to his proposals. On September 10 the Secretary-General invited both the then President, Mr. Kyprianou and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Denktash to New York where they were to participate in "proximity talks" under his auspi-ces.
The first round ended on September 20 without any positive results. The SecretaryGeneral persisted and there was a second round of talks in October (from 15 to 26). These talks also had the same fate due to the intransigent attitude of the Turkish side. During the "proximity talks" the Secretary-General had attempted to find common ground upon which he could base a fair and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem. While the Greek Cypriot side was working with a constructive frame of mind and made all possible concessions, the Turkish side remained unmoved and evasive. While substantive progress was not proved possible the Secretary General deemed it essential to undertake a further effort. The final round of "proximity talks" took place in New York between November 26 and December 12. During the third round there was some shifting in the position of the Turkish side, which appeared to be more flexible on vital issues for the first time since the talks began. Thus the Secretary-General considered that enough progress had been achieved to justify the convening of a high-level meeting of direct talks between the then President of Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriot leader. It had been made clear that the meeting would not be merely ceremonial but was to involve serious discussions and negotiations on vital issues. During the period between the end of the proximity talks on December 12, 1984 and the beginning of the high-level meeting on January 17, 1985 the Cyprus Government maintained a stance of cautious optimism and restraint, avoiding any comments on the substance of the negotiating process as had been requested by the UN Secretary-General. The note of cautious optimism was evident in the then President, Mr. Kyprianou's December 22 statement during a press conference: "After the conclusion of the third round of proximity talks in New York I talked about cautious optimism. As I have already stated, this is perhaps the first time since 1974 that some optimism is justified. But there is still a lot of distance to be covered in order to reach an agreed framework of a solution to the Cyprus problem covering all its aspects".


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Giorgos Zacharia ( 1995-1999.