Troutbeck, N.Y., 9 July 1997


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to these important talks.

This is a setting of great beauty and serenity. It is a place where, I am sure, cool minds and clear heads will prevail.

The generosity of the Government of Norway has made this meeting possible. On behalf of the United Nations, I express our deep gratitude to the Norwegians for this characteristic gesture in support of international peace and stability.

I invited the leaders of the Cypriot communities to meet here for face-to-face talks because I believe that a lasting peace in Cyprus is now within our grasp.

Great responsibilities, therefore, rest on the shoulders of the distinguished leaders of the two Cypriot communities. I am very glad they have come. I bid them a warm welcome here today.

In preparing for this meeting, I was reminded that the very first intercommunal talks were held twenty-nine years ago, at the home of the United Nations Secretary General's Special Representative on Cyprus. On the Greek Cypriot side, the talks were led by the President of the Cypriot House of Representatives. On the Turkish Cypriot side, the talks were led by the President of the Turkish Cypriot Communal Chamber.

Those are the same leaders who have joined us today.

That is a remarkable record. It is, in both cases, a record of a lifetime's work of service and leadership. Today, their knowledge of the situation is unrivalled. Their authority with their respective communities is undimmed.

I believe that strong leaders make the best peacemakers. That thought strengthens my conviction that there are grounds for hope in the process that lies ahead.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

The search for a peaceful solution to the Cyprus problem has dragged on for too long. For thirty-three years and four months, the United Nations has toiled, so far in vain, to bring about an agreed settlement. There have been dozens of Security Council resolutions. Four Secretaries-General have worked hard to implement the Council's mandate.

One wrote that this issue took up more of his time and attention than any other during his ten years in office. He called Cyprus the "orphan child of the United Nations."

A total of thirteen Special Representatives has striven to help the parties resolve their differences.

But while the search for peace in Cyprus has not, so far, been successful, neither has it been fruitless.

UNFICYP, originally set up for a period of three months, is still in existence. UNFICYP has held the line, worked to reduce tension, and has promoted inter-communal activities. The work of UNFICYP has been invaluable in reducing tension and containing the conflict. It has not been cost-free. UNFICYP currently costs $50m. a year. 168 United Nations peacekeepers have paid the supreme price for peace on Cyprus.

In the seemingly endless talks, some fruitful elements emerged. There were important advances that clarified the issues and that provided a starting-point for our work today.

A further factor is that, today, international backing for a solution to the Cyprus issue is firmer than ever. The support of the Security Council has been unequivocal. This meeting itself -- and the presence of special envoys from so many countries -- is proof of the high priority the international community attaches to the search for a viable and comprehensive solution.

Let us, therefore, press forward, in a positive spirit, in search of our common goal, a viable and comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem.

This afternoon Mr. Diego Cordovez will share with you on my behalf a number of suggestions. They are intended to facilitate your work during these direct talks. I hope they will assist you in organizing your future endeavours.

If you agree with these suggestions, you will be sending a strong and unmistakable signal to the international community. You will be signalling your commitment and determination to reach a comprehensive settlement, -- for which the people of Cyprus have been waiting for too long.

For many years, you have engaged in discussions about the issues that you have identified as the most crucial. Those discussions were based on concepts and approaches that successive Secretaries-General put forward in accordance with Security Council resolutions.

Past efforts remain valuable and significant. That is because -- as I said on assuming my present functions -- the elements needed to work out a settlement are, as a result, at hand.

I strongly believe that what is needed now is to explore, without further delay, specific and concrete solutions to each of those issues, and to do so in their proper context. This can be achieved only if you begin consideration of the actual documents and legal instruments that will constitute the comprehensive settlement.

I therefore propose that you enter upon a process -- let me repeat, a process -- of negotiations, leading to the incremental construction of the juridical framework within which the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities will forge a new partnership.

I am convinced that if you do so you will be able to promote an increasingly fruitful convergence of views and positions, in a process which will acquire its own momentum -- and thus produce the kind of consensual trade-offs that a negotiation necessarily involves.

I am equally convinced that, as soon as the negotiation process is under way, you will find that it is the most practical way of formulating texts that are mutually acceptable, and for that reason effective and durable.

The fact that the process will be conducted under the auspices of the United Nations will add another dimension. It will ensure that the principles of the Charter will inspire all the good offices efforts of the Secretary-General; will guide your deliberations; and underlie all the understandings that you will reach.

My aim is not to have to report, yet again, to the Security Council about another opportunity missed. No one underestimates the immensity of the tasks before you. But the international community has repeatedly expressed its confidence in your ability to craft new constitutional and institutional structures -- structures to allow the people of both Cypriot communities to live together in peace.

I share that hope, and that trust. The considerations for a new approach to negotiations that will be placed before you have been formulated in that spirit.

There is a further point. For the negotiations to proceed in an atmosphere of mutual confidence, I believe that both sides should refrain from making any public statements. I trust, therefore, that our friends in the media will understand when I say that there will be no press statements or interviews until this round of negotiations is over.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

It would be untrue to say that the world is watching the events in Troutbeck this week. But there are many who recognize that the present situation in Cyprus offers no recipe for peace, security and healthy economic development in the future. On the contrary, young people on the island are growing up under an ever-present cloud of uncertainty and potential instability.

For their sake, this cannot continue. There is a sense of greater urgency, more of a consensus than ever that this dispute must be brought to an end.

The consequences of failure are likely to be more dire than at any time in recent decades.

By reaching agreement, the Cypriot communities will not only earn the respect and gratitude of the international community. They will also earn its profound relief at the removal of a potential flashpoint from international relations in the Eastern Mediterranean and, most important, provide a prosperous and peaceful future for all Cypriots.

Thank you.

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