U.N.'s Annan: Cyprus accord 'within our grasp'
Leaders begin talks in rural isolation
In this story:
July 9, 1997
Web posted at: 3:20 p.m. EDT (1920 GMT)
AMENIA, New York (CNN) -- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan
said Wednesday that an end to the division of Cyprus was
within reach, but that the consequences of failure could be
more dire than at any time in recent decades.
Annan was opening five days of U.N.-sponsored talks between
the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities --
President Glafkos Clerides and Rauf Denktash -- aimed at
reviving negotiations on establishing a bi-zonal,
"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," Annan said at an
Isolated on purpose
The talks -- the first such meeting in three years -- are
taking place in the conference room of an English-style inn
at Troutbeck, a retreat 145 kilometers (90 miles) north of
New York City.
To encourage quiet diplomacy, the United Nations is keeping
the media at a distance and plans a news blackout. Amenia was
chosen in part because of a lack of accommodations for
reporters and television crews.
No agreements are expected. Instead, U.N. officials hope the
two sides will agree to meet again next month, possibly in
U.N. and U.S. officials hold out little hope for major
developments until the Greek Cypriots hold their
presidential elections next February.
Annan said his special envoy for Cyprus, former Ecuadorean
Foreign Minister Diego Cordovez, would be submitting "a
number of suggestions" to facilitate their work.
Cyprus has been virtually partitioned since troops from
Turkey took over the north of the island in 1974 to foil a
coup by Greek Cypriots, supported by the military government
then ruling Greece.
But divisions between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots go back
In 1963, three years after Cyprus won independence from
Britain, a government representing both communities broke
apart amid violence that resulted in the dispatch of a U.N.
peacekeeping force that is still on the Mediterranean island.
About 1,200 U.N. troops police a 180-kilometer (112-mile)
buffer that divides the two communities.
The Greek Cypriots, whose government in Nicosia enjoys broad
international recognition, have proposed a central
administration with each community enjoying a degree of
Turkish Cypriots, who make up 20 percent of the island's
population, fear domination by the Greeks and insist on
equality for their community. About 30,000 Turkish troops
remain in the northern part of the island.
In his speech, Annan said young Cypriots were growing up
under a "cloud of uncertainty and potential instability."
"For their sake ... 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," he added, apparently alluding
to forthcoming events that could precipitate a crisis.
These include talks expected to begin next year on European
Union membership for Cyprus and the Nicosia government's
planned deployment of Russian-made S-300 air defense
Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots do not recognize the Greek
Cypriot-led Nicosia government and say it cannot negotiate EU
membership for the entire island.
Any move in that direction would result in linking northern
Cyprus even more closely with Turkey, they say.
Turkey, with air bases little more than 40 miles (65 km) from
Cyprus, has also said it would take any steps necessary to
prevent the deployment next year of the S-300 missiles.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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