Highlights of Press Conference by Alvaro de Soto,
Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Cyprus,
held at the Palais des Nations on 5 July 2000


Alvaro de Soto, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Cyprus, said the Secretary-General would be meeting this afternoon with Mr. Glafcos Clerides and Mr. Rauf Denktash in order to continue the proximity talks that began in December last year to prepare the ground for meaningful negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement. The United Nations had been unable to resume the talks as originally planned in late May because Mr. Clerides was ill, but both leaders were now in Geneva and it was Secretary-General Kofi Annanís full intention to recoup the time that had been lost. The United Nations envisioned this to be a resumption leading to an intensified, continuous set of talks that would lead over the next few months into Autumn. Of course, unavoidably, there would have to be breaks for reflection, consultations and other reasons, but by large, it should be a comprehensive set of talks.

Mr. de Soto said that the Secretary-General wished the two parties in the talks to be extremely circumspect in their contacts with the press, both concerning substance and procedure, including the agenda of the talks. Anyone who had ever dealt with these talks was aware of the tendency of having sometimes small issues spiral entirely out of proportion and procedure controversy and they wanted to avoid that. Controversy, if there was to be controversy, should be within the talks and procedural wrangling, if there was to be wrangling, should be within the talks and should not be public. The Secretary-General was very much counting on the cooperation of the parties in the coming months. the Secretary-General expected the talks to concentrate on core issues that had to be part of a comprehensive settlement. The talks would be confined to these core issues. It was well known that important issues concerning Cyprus had flared up in the past days and weeks. Luckily there were mechanisms in place to deal with these issues that had arisen: the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, led by a very senior UN official, Zbigniew Wlosowicz, Head of Mission of UNFICYP. It was regrettable because it would have been desirable if Mr. Wlosowicz could have been here for a day or two.

The United Nations was dealing with these proximity talks in the framework of efforts to actually negotiate a comprehensive settlement. Mr. de Soto said that the Secretary-General and himself must set the example and could not go into any details on substance or the agenda other than what had already been said.

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