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


February 9, 2004 

Question: Just a bit more about what the Secretary General is willing to do with the coming out of the talks tomorrow on Cyprus . Specifically if a deal is able to be reached and planned to go to referenda, does he imagine that it would be possible to leave some issues unresolved that could be sorted out after join the EU?

Spokesman: I think it is too early to say anything more than his hope is that the two sides and the two motherlands are now firmly committed to resolving their outstanding differences on the basis of the plan thatís on the table and that this can be resolved in time of the referenda so that the whole process can be completed by the 1st of May. As to details like whether he would accept leaving some issues open I donít want to speculate what his negotiate strategy would be. I mean he is looking for the two sides and Greece and Turkey to agree to some common platform and the more they can agree the better I think is probably his general principle.

Question: How many meetings will be tomorrow?

Spokesman: We donít have those details yet. There was a planning meeting, the Secretary General and his principle advisers on Cyprus this morning to discuss those kinds of details; we hope to get to some information from that meeting some time after one oíclock today. So if you check with my office maybe 1.30 p.m. or 2.00 p.m. we hope to know more.

Question: When he is saying that he wants to agree with the leaders on the ground rules of how to proceed what does he mean?

Spokesman: you know what the situation is the plan is on the table, an effort he made last year to get the two sides to agree to that plan failed, he felt that there wasnít a serious enough political commitment for the talks to succeed and he said he wasnít going to get involved again until he saw signs of that commitment. He now sees signs that they are serious about trying to meet the 1st of May deadline so I think he wants to hear from each side what their opening position is, how far apart they are, how much flexibility there is on either side to compromise and then see if the whole process can be accelerated to a successful conclusion.

Question:  Does this mean that the Secretary General will listen to the parties about the procedures regarding the plan on the table?

Spokesman: Well, he has spoken to them individually but yes the formal talks begin tomorrow. As I said we donít have the details of the mechanics of whatís going to take place tomorrow, we hope to have that later this afternoon but I would have imagined that the opening steps would be for the two sides to present their current position.

 

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