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2001-2002: Resumption of talks between President Clerides and Denktash – Annan visits Cyprus – Annan Plan – European Council’s decision for Cyprus’ EU accession in May 2004 – Technical committees set up – T/C reactions for Denktash’s negative stance



Resumption of intercommunal talks, Annan Plan

On 4 December 2001, the President of the Republic Mr Glafcos Clerides had a meeting with the Turkish Cypriot Leader Mr Rauf Denktash in the presence of the Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Cyprus Mr Alvaro de Soto, at the residence of the UN Chief of Mission.

After the meeting, the Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Cyprus announced that the President of the Republic Mr Glafcos Clerides and the Turkish Cypriot Leader Mr Rauf Denktash had agreed the following:
· That the United Nations Secretary-General, in the exercise of his mission of good offices, would invite the two leaders to direct talks;
· That these talks would be held in Cyprus starting in mid January 2002 on UN premises;
· That there would be no preconditions;
· That all issues would be on the table;
· That they would continue to negotiate in good faith until a comprehensive settlement was achieved;
· That nothing would be agreed until everything was agreed.

Based on the above agreement, the two leaders had their first meeting at Nicosia Airport on 16 January 2002.

Involvement of the UN Secretary-General in the talks

In order to assist the process of the direct talks, the UN Secretary-General Mr Kofi Annan arrived, on 14 May 2002, in Cyprus, where he held meetings with the leaders of the two communities. Upon his departure on 16 May 2002, he expressed the conviction that by the end of June the two leaders could resolve all the core issues, provided they would go about their task decisively and with the necessary political will.

By 2 July 2002, four rounds of talks had been held but without any progress, despite the fact that the target date set for reaching an agreement was June 2002.

On 6 September 2002 in Paris and on 3-4 October 2002 in New York, Mr Annan held intensive talks with the leaders of the two communities intended to bridge the gap between the two sides. After these meetings Mr Denktash underwent heart surgery.

UN Secretary-General submits comprehensive solution plan

On 11 November 2002, the UN Secretary-General conveyed to the two sides a detailed plan for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, asking the two leaders to give an initial response to the plan within a week. On 18 November 2002, President Clerides handed the reply of the Greek Cypriot side to Mr De Soto, expressing his readiness to start negotiations without any delay on the basis of the document that was before the two sides. The Turkish Cypriot side with a delay of nine days (27.11.2002) also replied that it accepted the document as a basis for negotiations.

Kofi Annan submits renewed plan

On 10 December 2002, Mr De Soto delivered letters from the UN Secretary-General to the two sides containing a revision of his proposed Basis for Agreement on a Comprehensive Settlement of the Cyprus Problem, which had been conveyed on 11 November 2002.

In his letter the Secretary-General asked the two leaders to give the revision the most urgent consideration with a view to reaching a decisive conclusion so that a reunited Cyprus could accede to the European Union. The Secretary-General also asked the two sides to be available for talks in Copenhagen should that prove necessary.

“Cyprus has a rendezvous with history”, said the Secretary-General in his letter. “It should not be missed.”

Copenhagen European Council

The European Council at Copenhagen decided, on 13 December 2002, that Cyprus together with nine other candidate countries accedes to the European Union on 1 May 2004, without any preconditions. Cyprus’ national goal of EU accession was, thus, completed, albeit without the solution of the Cyprus problem, despite the readiness and determination of the Greek Cypriot side.

On the same day, the UN Secretary-General’s Spokesman Mr Fred Eckhard expressed regret that the current opportunity for a solution has been missed, noting, at the same time, that the Secretary-General’s revised proposal of 10th December remains on the table and that both sides have expressed their willingness to continue negotiations.

UN Security Council expresses regret for untimely response of T/C side

On 18 December 2002 the President of the UN Security Council, Mr Alfonso Valdivieso of Colombia, issued a press release stating, inter alia, that “the members of the Security Council, in the presence of the Secretary-General, heard a report from the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Cyprus, on the negotiations that have taken place in recent months, in pursuance of the mission entrusted to the Secretary-General by the Security Council in its resolution 1250, aimed at achieving agreement on a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem which takes full account of relevant Security Council resolutions”.

The Security Council members expressed regret that the Turkish side had not responded in a timely way to the Secretary-General’s initiatives and called for its constructive efforts to reach a settlement in conformity with the timetable proposed by the Secretary-General. Moreover, the Security Council called on all concerned to seize the historic opportunity to bring a peaceful, just and lasting settlement to the Cyprus problem to the benefit of all Cypriots and the wider region.

Mobilisation of Turkish Cypriots and statements by Erdogan against Denktash

On 26 December 2002, a mass rally was held in the Turkish occupied part of Nicosia, in which 30,000 Turkish Cypriots called for the acceptance of the Annan Plan, so that a solution of the Cyprus problem could be reached by 28 February 2003 and criticised Mr Denktash for his negative stance during the negotiations, calling on him, at the same time, to resign because he had lost his title of negotiator. In his address at the rally, the T/C leader Mr Mustafa Akinci accused Mr Denktash of dragging Cyprus into permanent division. A declaration issued at the end of the rally said: “We are announcing to the world that Denktash does not represent the Turkish Cypriots. The struggle will continue until we reach lasting peace.”

Moreover, the Chairman of the Justice and Development Party (JDP), Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in an interview to the Turkish TV Channel Rize TV on 1 January 2003, criticised Mr Denktash’s policy on the Cyprus problem, noting the following: “I am not in favour of continuing the policy that has been implemented in Cyprus for the last 30-40 years. This issue is not Mr Denktash’ personal issue. Mr. Denktash is saying that the plan is negotiable but that he does not trust the other side. Here we will leave the issue of trust aside. Since we believe that this plan is negotiable, then we will negotiate. If 30,000 people are staging a demonstration in north Cyprus, then this means that north Cyprus is advancing toward some goal. We should well assess the issue. One cannot cast aside the views of the people on the issue”.

In addition, on 14 January 2003, more than 50,000 Turkish Cypriots took to the streets in occupied Nicosia, for the second time in 20 days, demonstrating in favour of a solution to the Cyprus problem by 28 February on the basis of the revised Annan plan and of accession to the EU. The demonstrators turned their anger towards their leader Rauf Denktash.

Some of the slogans that dominated the demonstration were, “Denktash has to resign”, “We do not want to live in an open prison”, “Denktash, sign the plan by 28 February or resign”, “We want peace”, “No one can obstruct peace”, “This country is ours”, and “Yell for Denktash to hear you, yell for Ankara to hear you”.

Technical Committees begin work

The members of the two ad hoc technical committees - Committee on Treaties and Committee on Common State Laws - that were set up after an agreement of the two leaders, in the presence of the UN Secretary-General, on 4 October 2002, held their first meeting on 7 January to discuss procedural aspects and chart a course for the technical work ahead.

An aide to the Secretary-General’s Special Advisor for Cyprus, Mr Alvaro de Soto, said “the technical meetings should go ahead in parallel with the ongoing political negotiations”, adding that “the work of the technical committees is to finalize texts on the matters they deal with and then essentially recommend them to the two leaders, who would then approve them.”

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