Interview with Mr. Alvaro de Soto: (9/5/2002)
Ergüçlü: Mr. Alvaro De Soto, welcome sir to KIBRIS TV studios for the Platform programme. We are happy to have you here and we thank you again for giving us this opportunity to ask you a few questions in this delicate times the Cyprus problem is going through. The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is to visit Cyprus next week. This is seen as an important step in the search for a Cyprus settlement Sir. What should we expect from the forthcoming visit of the UN Secretary General to Cyprus.
De Soto: I should be thanking you for your invitation to join you in this programme. It provides me with an opportunity to come out and say few things publicly for which I believe the time has come. The Secretary General is coming here in order foremost, firstly foremost to give encouragement and if possible help breathe new life into the process that began long ago but took a new impetus in December of last year, when the two leaders agreed begin direct meetings at the invitation of the secretary general in my presence. There is some concern expressed by the Security Council which the Secretary General shares that the process is not proceeding with all the urgency that is required. This urgency is due to the fact that there is a window of opportunity that exists now and that is probably the last best opportunity to achieve a settlement regarding the already very old problem of Cyprus. And it is our feeling at the United Nations that, this opportunity has to be ceased with a sense of urgency by the two leaders and with a sense of seriousness and also in a spirit of given take and compromise. Neither of the two sides can be expected to come away from this process having achieved all of the aspirations. I believe the people in the south and the people in the north realise that this is the case. And I think that they will encourage their two leaders if they were to engage in such a constructive process to bring about reconciliation. Now the Secretary General comes here in order to encourage the two sides. And in order to discuss with them how United Nations can best assist them in their efforts to try to solve the long standing problem. This is what he will be discussing.
Ergüçlü: The latest statement of the President of the UN Security Council on Cyprus, states that "the time had now come to set down on paper areas of common ground between the two sides". Within this context, is it possible for the Secretary General to produce some sort of a document to help the two leaders in their search for a settlement?
De Soto: There is no question about the ability of the United Nations to do such a thing. But we believe that it would be far more important and far better if the two leaders, with the assistance of their advisors could do this by themselves. There has arisen some doubt about whether it is possible for them to do so by themselves given the positions that are have been entrenched for so long and the gap that divides them. And both sides to a certain extent have become somewhat prisoners of their own positions and their rhetoric. And it is difficult for them to approach the problem with flexibility and imagination. But I feel certain, knowing them by now as they do, that they would be capable of doing it if they approach it with a sense of, with a spirit of give and take and a sense of urgency. So let us not take away from the two leaders the responsibility that they have. It is for them to reach a solution. Solution must be reached between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots. Any assistance that a third party can provide will be secondary to their willingness to solve this problem, because no solution can be imposed from the outside.