Annan Urges Cypriots To Seize ‘Unique Opportunity’
ANNAN URGES CYPRIOTS TO SEIZE ‘UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY’ TO REUNIFY THEIR COUNTRY
New York, Apr 8 2004 1:00PM
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged Cypriots to seize the “unique opportunity” to reunite their country ahead of its entry into the European Union on 1 May but also voiced disappointment at opposition to his settlement plan by the Greek Cypriot leader.
At the same time the Secretary-General “welcomed the fact that a number of political leaders on both sides in Cyprus, as well as in Greece and Turkey, appear to be moving in the direction of encouraging the people to vote to build a common future in Cyprus on the basis of the plan that he finalized on 31 March 2004 at the invitation of the parties,” according to a statement issued in Geneva by Mr. Annan’s spokesman.
Voters will head to the polls on 24 April to cast their ballots on a plan that would create a United Cyprus Republic – composed of two constituent states linked by a federal government – after six weeks of negotiations failed to yield an agreement between the Greek Cypriot leader, Tassos Papadopoulos, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash.
Today’s statement noted that the opposition of Mr. Denktash “has been known for some time,” but added the Secretary-General was “disappointed to learn” that Mr. Papadopoulos has now called for the plan’s rejection.
“The Secretary-General fully respects the wishes of the people and will not interfere in their decision. However, he reiterates that Cypriots have a unique opportunity to reunite their country, and he hopes that they will seize it while it is before them,” the statement said.