Press Briefing by Alvaro de Soto
Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Cyprus
after the end of the fifth round of the proximity talks
Geneva, 10 November, 2000
Special Adviser: We have concluded
several days of very intensive work here. As the Secretary-General said when he
met you two days ago, he has invited the two sides to meet again in late
Anticipating your questions as to
whether the two sides have agreed to come, I can tell you that I was not in a
position to press them for a reply to the invitation, since for scheduling
reasons we are not yet in a position to give a precise date. As you know when
the Secretary-General was here, he met them, and gave them some thoughts about
procedure and also about some substantive aspects of a comprehensive settlement
in the hope of facilitating negotiations. I would make this clear because there
have been a number of press reports on this subject. He did not put forward a
proposal. What he did was make to them oral remarks. I might emphasize that the
status of what he said to them is just that: - oral remarks. The
Secretary-General told Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash that what he hopes is that
they reflect on and use these ideas, including all the ideas that have been put
to them in the last few months, and react to them. We have said that serious
efforts at reaching a settlement can only be conducted in private: it would not
be helpful if the ideas were discussed in public or through the media.
When you last concluded a
round of talks in New York you talked about a qualitative step that was achieved
during that round. Can you say the same thing this time? And the second part of
my question: you also referred to the phrase that 'peace may be at hand'. Can
you say that too?
On the first question, what
I was referring to is the depth and the nature of the engagement, which had
taken a marked turn for the better in New York and that, I believe, continues to
be the case. This doesn't mean that the parties are entirely or equally happy
about the evolution of developments but they are still firmly engaged. On the
second point perhaps I was being overly baroque in what I said earlier. I was
making an allusion to a statement once made rather prematurely by Secretary of
State Kissinger about peace being at hand (peace in Vietnam). It was rather
premature because the war went on for many months after that. What I said in New
York is that I was not saying that peace was at hand.
Answering a subsequent question
regarding statements to the press by Mr. Denktash, Mr. de Soto said he didn't
think it would serve any useful purpose for him to comment on statements made to
the press. All I can say is that Mr. Denktash told the Secretary-General and has
repeated to me that he will be evaluating the remarks made orally by the
Secretary-General and that he will be adopting a position in this regard in due
course. I look forward to hearing back from him on this and other subjects when
I visit the island in December. As the Secretary-General mentioned, towards the
end of this month I am going to Athens and Ankara and at the beginning of
December I shall be in Cyprus.
Concerning these oral
remarks, how do you consider these remarks, you personally. How do you consider
your efforts to continue?
As I said, the
Secretary-General made these oral remarks to the two sides with a view to
facilitating their efforts and to give them an idea of his thinking about some
of the elements that might go into a comprehensive settlement. He gave this to
them in the hope of helping them understand his views regarding where things
should go. But they were, in many ways, general remarks and there are a lot of
details that will have to be filled out as part of the ambitious goal of drawing
up a comprehensive settlement which, as I said to you previously, is going to
have to be rather a bulky product once it comes into being as we hope it will
Has any progress been
made? Have you taken any steps forward and does it appear likely that the
parties might be meeting in face to face talks?
Answer: I don't think it would be
adroit on my part to try to characterize where we are going. As I said on the
first of November, I was not foreseeing any spectacular announcements or major
breakthrough and I think that events have born out my prediction. I think I
would probably stick to my general policy of not trying to characterize
progress. As I said earlier, given the method of negotiations that we have
adopted, measurement of progress is an extremely difficult thing to do because
of the absence of the second point that you referred to which is face to face
negotiations. No actual give and take in the usual sense is occurring, so I
can't report to you that today it was agreed to do such and such thing. That is
not how the progress is going to be measured. I am afraid it is going to be
slow. We shall only see whether it works once we have a package deal at the very
end. Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. And more specifically on your
second question, as I have said before I don't foresee moving to a face to face
format anytime soon.
Could you elaborate a bit
on how other variables are a factor in your negotiations, in particular the
question of the accession talks between Cyprus and the European Union and also
the positive steps in that direction by Turkey?
Answer: It's a very good question
actually because I am sure there are lot of people who are confused at the two
events if you can characterize in that way the accession partnership issued on
8th November by the European Commission. The Secretary-General 's oral remarks
to the parties occurred on the same day and this was a fortuitous coincidence.
The Secretary-General would have liked to come to Geneva earlier but he had to
rearrange his schedule because of the trip that he had to make earlier in the
month to the Middle East. We continue to believe that certain external factors
over the last year and a half or two are by and large a positive force that
should help energize the process concerning Cyprus. Beyond that, I don't believe
that there is any point in my commenting on specific episodes in those external
factors. We just hope that any positive influence that they might be able to
bring to bear will continue to be there.
Answering a subsequent question, he said the Secretary-General was conducting his mandate in the framework of resolution 1250 of the Security Council, which sets out the four general guidelines according to which the talks should be conducted and I won't bore the rest of your colleagues by repeating those guidelines.
Question: Earlier you said that you
considered that the parties were not entirely or equally happy with the oral
remarks of the Secretary-General. Do I detect a hint of disappointment on your part?
Not at all. I was talking
in the subjunctive and if I may paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, I would say it is
not possible to keep everyone happy all of the time and so there will be
variations. That is par for the course. We hope that everyone will be equally
happy at the end of the day; that's when it counts.
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