10 April, 2003  

1.   The Council has before it the Secretary-General's written report on his efforts between late 1999 and 11 March 2003 to assist the two sides in Cyprus achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

2.   This is the first written report on the Secretary-General's mission of good offices since June of 1999. It covers a long period of negotiations. It describes the thinking behind the Secretary-General's comprehensive proposals. It makes a number of observations about the process and the way
ahead.  Hence its length.

3.   The report speaks for itself and I only wish to add a few comments.

4.   The
Cyprus problem is the oldest item continually on the Secretary-General's peace-making agenda. It is difficult to see a set of circumstances for achieving a settlement as propitious as that which
prevailed in the last three and a half years.

5.   In terms of the wider political environment in the region, all the conditions were in place. In addition, the Secretary-General himself was deeply and heavily involved in the effort, throwing his full backing behind it. The Council strongly supported him every step of the way. And, I believe, a fair and honourable package, comprehensive in approach and only needing technical finalization, was on the table.

6.   The fact that a solution has not been achieved in these circumstances is therefore deeply disappointing. It seems attributable to failings of political will rather than to the absence of favourable circumstances. Obviously, towards the end of the process, when decisions had to be made, the crisis in
Iraq loomed large and made it difficult, particularly for Turkey, to take the bold decisions, and bring the necessary influence to bear, in order to achieve a settlement. Be that as it may, a unique opportunity has been missed, and the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots have been denied the opportunity to vote to reunite Cyprus. This the Secretary-General deeply regrets.

7.   The immediate losers are the Turkish Cypriots and
Turkey, but the Greek Cypriots and Greece are also losers ? this is truly a lose-lose outcome. The Secretary-General's views as to why this opportunity was missed are contained in his report.

8.   If the failure of this effort tells us anything, it confirms something we all already knew ? this is one of the most difficult diplomatic problems in the world. This is why the Secretary-General believes that it would be a great step backward if the plan were simply allowed to wither away.

9.   Of course, like all human endeavours, the plan is not perfect. No doubt one can have different views about it, particularly in the details. But the plan represents the best effort of the United Nations to generate a balanced and truly comprehensive proposal which resolves all issues, leaves little to be negotiated, and above all, represents a fair and honourable settlement which meets the core interests and aspirations of both sides. It is based on a three-and-a-half year process of unprecedented intensity and stands on the shoulders of four decades of UN peace-making efforts in

10.  I urge members of the Council not to under-estimate what an extraordinarily difficult task it is to achieve an overall balance on the range of issues that must be settled. Every word of the plan was worked on many times, carefully calibrated, and weighed in the overall balance. One Turkish columnist wrote that the plan is like an Alexander Calder mobile. All aspects are interconnected. If any significant piece is removed and the balance is altered, it could fall to the ground.

11.  That is why the Secretary-General, in his report, speaks of the need, in a future negotiation, not to re-open the basic principles or key trade-offs in the plan. In the coming period, after the signature of the EU accession treaty on 16 April, through the entry into force of that treaty on 1 May 2004, and in the run-up to the European Council of December 2004 in which a decision is to be taken on accession talks with Turkey, the overwhelming need is for the parties to hew closely to the plan. To re-open its basic principles or key trade-offs would be to put the entire enterprise at peril.

12.  That is why Mr Denktash's suggestion in
The Hague ? that the parties should return to a discussion on principles ? did not, in the Secretary-General's view, give any hope that agreement could be achieved;
and equally why Mr Papadopoulos's preparedness not to re-open the substantive parts of the plan if Mr Denktash responded in the same manner was welcome. The hope must be that, in time, the Turkish Cypriot side will come around to the same position that Mr Papadopoulos took in
The Hague.

13.  In the Secretary-General's view, the point had been reached where the leaders on each side should accept that the plan couldn't be significantly improved by further negotiation, and therefore that they should prepared to finalize it and put it to referendum. This is what the Secretary-General said to the leaders when he was in
Cyprus . Without that honest intellectual realization on the part of both sides, and without the leaders being prepared to explain this to their people, it is difficult to see a settlement being achieved. 

14.  Looking to the future, as his report outlines, the Secretary-General does not intend to take a new initiative unless and until such time as he has solid reason to believe that the political will exists necessary for a successful outcome. This would come about if there was an unequivocally-stated preparedness on the part of the leaders of both sides, fully and determinedly backed at the highest political level in both
motherlands, to commit (a) to finalize the plan (without re-opening its basic principles or key trade-offs) by a specific date, with United Nations assistance, and (b) to put it to separate simultaneous referenda as
provided for in the plan on a date certain soon thereafter. The onus is on the parties ? and the motherlands ? to demonstrate the political will to solve the problem on the basis of his plan, in the manner which the
Secretary-General has suggested.

15.  Since the events described in this report, Mr Denktash has written to Mr Papadopoulos proposing that they meet to discuss a range of confidence building measures. Mr Denktash was motivated to do this, according to his letter, to address the deep crisis of confidence which he believes exists between the two sides, and which in his view was a major cause of the stalemate at
The Hague.

16.  Mr Papadopoulos responded that, in his view, the stalemate was caused not by a crisis of confidence but by Mr Denktash and Turkey not accepting the Secretary-General's plan as the basis for a negotiating a final settlement. Mr Papadopoulos restated  in the most clear terms that he remains committed, even after 16 April, to finding a solution "within the parameters of the Annan plan", and called on Mr Denktash to indicate that he accepts the Secretary-General's plan as the basis for a further negotiating process.

17.   Mr Denktash responded restating his conviction that a crisis of confidence has obstructed all efforts, including the most recent one, to resolve the
Cyprus problem, and said that his confidence building proposals remain on the table. He reaffirmed a point made in his earlier letter, namely, that he continues to support the good offices mission of the Secretary-General ? on this he and Mr Papadopoulos appear to be in agreement. However, Mr Denktash, without accepting the Secretary-General's plan as the basis for a further negotiating process, proposed that the leaders should discuss the amendments they want to present to it, and, if agreed, put the plan to referendum. To our knowledge, Mr Papadopoulos has not responded to this further letter at this time.

18.  As I said, the Secretary-General's report gives his views as to why the process was not successful, and outlines what he believes should be the best way forward. The criteria contained therein will guide the
Secretary-General in his good offices role in the future.


* * * * *