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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Press Conference: Papadopoulos Annan

Following their meeting today in Paris, President Papadopoulos and the Secretary-General Kofi Annan held a joint press conference.

Question: What will be the role of the EU during this process?

Secretary-General: As you know, during the exercise of my good offices over the years, we have cooperated very effectively with the European Union and we intended to cooperate with them. In some situations they have provided experts and they have provided other assistance. In some cases, [we] exchanged ideas on some of the technical issues and process, of the exercise of my good offices and I would expect [them] to work with me in that spirit. Besides, they have a direct interest in the settlement of this issue.

President Papadopoulos: I agree with the Secretary-General. Our position is very clear. We want the European Union to have a more active role in the process and I have assurances that they are prepared to do that. The Cyprus problem remains under the aegis of the United Nations and the Secretary-General.

Secretary-General: As I said, the EU has always been supportive and I expect them to continue to be supportive. There is no problem about it.

Question: Mr. Secretary-General, what to you think of the recent Turkish proposals and, second, are you planning to invite Mr. Talat for the same meeting and are you going to appoint a new Cyprus envoy?

Secretary-General: First of all, we just wished Mr. Talat well. Be patient and be merciful. Let him get well first. Once he’s back on his feet, it is not excluded that we will have an opportunity to meet in New York some time in the future. As I said, we took stock of the negotiations, of the process of settlement of the Cyprus issue and we also touched on the Turkish initiative. We are going to take a look at a whole series of actions and Turkey does admit that it has an obligation, under the EU requirement, to undertake certain steps which it will take. But, of course, there were other measures proposed in their plan of action and, today, we looked at a whole series of other activities that the two sides can undertake, am I talking of the Turkish Cypriot side and [the Greek Cypriot side] and we will see what proposals we bring together for the parties to act on.

On the question of appointment of an envoy, yes, in the application of my Good Offices I usually do have an envoy and, at the right time, I will appoint an envoy, but that does not mean that we are not doing any work on the question. First of all, I have a very competent Special Representative on the ground, Mr. Michael Mψller, whom I hope most of you have met, and he’s going to work with the parties on certain steps and certain actions that they will need to take. We will be back-stopping and preparing for these things in New York with my Under-Secretary-General, Ibrahim Gambari and his staff, and when the time is ripe I will appoint an envoy.

Question: Did you also discuss the issue of the missing people?

Secretary-General: Yes, we are just about to appoint a third member of the [Missing Persons] Committee and they will begin their work very soon and I do expect the two communities to work very expeditiously on this and move forward. There will be a full-time member [of the Committee] on the island.

Question: Do you consider this meeting with President Papadopoulos a step forward in the process of the Cyprus forward?

Secretary-General: In negotiations, sometimes people say that as long as you are talking you are making progress. But what I have indicated, what I would want to see, is a much narrower gap between our words and our actions. In the next couple of months, we are going to do whatever we can to do narrow that gap as we move ahead with the process.

Question: Mr. Secretary-General did you get in this meeting some new ideas from Pres. Papadopoulos [inaudible] and that the process will start soon. Is there enough time to do it before the end of your term?

Secretary-General: Let me say that, yes, there were quite a few proposals that were put on the table this afternoon, which we are going to analyze carefully and see how we can put them into action, after consulting the other side, working together and come up with a programme of action which we can begin to work on the ground. Obviously, when you are handling these sorts of negotiations, where there is a will among the parties things can move very fast. When the will is not there, it can take you a long time. Let’s start with the initiatives I just said that we discussed today and begin to take concrete steps and see how things can be accelerated. And I hope that it will help bridge what I refer to as the gap between words and actions.

Question: It is a symbolic question. We see you for the first time standing outside of the UN in front of the flag of the Republic of Cyprus. Is this some kind of measures that we have to keep in mind?

Secretary-General: Let me assure you that I will not want his job. I am looking forward at the end of the year, of having a balance between action and reflection and taking some rest. So, do not worry, I am not heading to Nicosia to take on another job.

President Papadopoulos: I will send my best wishes to Mr. Talat for a quick recovery. I wish him a speedy recovery. [inaudible]

Question: Mr. Annan how optimistic are you?

Secretary-General: I am always optimistic.

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