Statement BY UN SECRETARY GENERAL's  SPOKESMAN FRED ECKHARD oN Cyprus


February 10, 2004 

Today is Cyprus day at the United Nations and we are pleased to inform you that the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders have arrived in NY, in pursuant to the Secretary Generalís invitation. Delegations of the three guarantor parties are also on hand as the SG requested. As you know the Secretary-General wrote on the 4th of February to the two parties inviting them to come to New York today to resume negotiations on the basis of his plan. The objective of the negotiations would be to put a completed text to referenda in April this year, in time for a reunited Cyprus to accede to the European Union on the 1st of May.

This afternoon at 4pm there will be a meeting of the G/C side and the T/C side with SG. Prior to that there will be  brief separate talks by the leaders with the SG, at 3:30 with the G/C side and 3:45 with the T/C side.

As for practical arrangements a stakeout will be in place at the Secretariat entrance for arrivals and photo ops will be organized at the start of the three meetings, we will keep you informed of any possible statements that may be made following the 3-way meeting.

Q: On Cyprus , the SG had previously put down conditions for the resumption of these talks, which included a commitment by both parties to a referendum. Now, are those commitments still seen as a precondition for the continuation of the talks or is it possible if that commitment is not taken today, these talks end today

A: Letís not kill these talks before theyíve started. Iíd prefer not to talk about conditions to the talks resuming a few hours before they are about to resume. What we hope to establish in the meeting that will take place this afternoon, is the commitment of the two parties to reach an agreement. If that commitment is forthcoming, the assumption is that detailed technical talks would resume as soon as possible involving both sides. So, Iím evading your question intentionally.

Q: Will the SG be addressing the press after the meeting?

A: We have no plans at this time for him to do so. Itis possible that in the meeting with the two parties they will discuss how to handle the media aspects of the visit, whether they will issue a joint statement or agree to talk to the press individually, I donít yet know. I donít think theyíve decided.

Q: Another technical question on the same subject. How do the guarantor nations get involved? In the talks with the parties and the SG, are there representatives in those talks? Or do they get briefed afterwards, Iím just interested in knowing particularly Turkey ís role in the peace talks.

A: Well the guarantor states are the UK , Greece , and Turkey and at the SGís suggestion representatives of those three countries are here. They will not be in the meetings, they will be in the margins ready to play a supporting role as might be required.

Q: What is the reason the announcement of the talks was just made four hours, actually three hours before the leaders meet with the SG? Was there any reason for this delay?

A: Alvaro de Soto wanted to meet with both delegations to discuss the details for the talks when they would take place, how many would participate etc. He met with the T/C side last night, he was not able to meet with the GC side until first thing this morning, so we couldnít confirm the details until after that second meeting finished. I think it started at nine oíclock this morning. They were purely technical meetings as far as I know, but Mr. de Soto didnít give us anything of a substantive nature that came out of them.

Q: Very much a one day thing. If they want to carry on might it be moved to Cyprus ?

A: Itís hard to predict, I think itís our assumption that following a single session with the SG here in NY that as I said earlier, the detailed nuts and bolts negotiations could begin with Alvaro de Soto representing the SG in a Good Offices function and were that would take place I donít think we are ready to say. They may announce it at the end of today.

Q: We understand the May 1st deadline, is an obvious deadline for obvious reasons. How about all the other deadlines described by the SG in his letters? Is he flexible on all those deadlines? Or is it something that he will follow them or justÖ

A: We think the EU accession date of the 1st of May provides motivation for the parties to restart talks in a serious way. They have indicated to the SG that they are prepared to do that, so I think everyoneís working assumption is that what they are beginning to undertake today is with a view to concluding by the 1st of May.

Q: In the trilateral meetings with the SG, who is going to be there? Is it just Papadopoulos and Denktash or who else is going to be in those delegations? How large are those delegations?

A: I will have to double check but I think the working formula that we had was principals plus two.  So I think it would be a delegation of 3 for each side.

Q: Can you name any of the other members of the delegations, like Mr. Talat?

A: First let me confirm that three is what was agreed on in the technical talks last night and this morning and second Iíll ask whether we can give you the names of the other members. I donít think that should be a problem.

Q: Sir about the tripartite Cyprus meetings, I know itís hard to predict but still a logistical question. Do you have any idea about how long those talks could last and whether they could be an hour, five hours, any guesses?

A: Well for those of you who might have dinner plans, you might want to put them on hold. There is no way to predict, there is no way to predict. Our collective hope is that they wonít go until midnight but they will go for as long the parties feel itís useful to keep talking.

Q: Any other session tomorrow?

A: Not to my knowledge. No. But again that would be a decision, if it were to be made, would be made in the course of tonightís meeting.

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