Kıbrıs TV interview with Alvaro de Soto:
Süleyman Ergüçlü: Wellcome to our studio Mr. de Soto. Again we are at a new phase in the Cyprus problem. The fourth round of the direct talks between the two leaders has ended today or entered a recess lets say and I understand theyll begin the new round will begin on the 16th of July. But in the meantime you have a programme and it seems a very busy programme. What are your plans, what are you going to do in this two weeks Mr. de Soto?
De Soto: Well, indeed you are correct, the talks have been suspended for a couple of weeks. I will fly tomorrow to meet the Secretary General in Vienna and I will be in New York in time to brief the members of the Security Council on the 9th of July. I have a series of appointments in between thereafter as well. I very much hope that the parties also will take this short break in order to see where things stand. Im going to be meeting them before leaving, separately, individually and discuss with them where we stand and encourage them to reflect on the needs for a process to make progress in the next month or two.
Süleyman Ergüçlü: Where do we stand Mr. de Soto?
De Soto: Well as you know it had been our hope that by the end of June it would have been possible to essentially solve the main elements...
Süleyman Ergüçlü: Core issues...
De Soto: Yes core issues. Essentially solve them in principle, because such an overall agreement on the main elements would have greatly facilitated the considerable legal and technical drafting that has to be carried out as part of a settlement. And time is running out in order to be able to do that. And we should therefore intensify our efforts to achieve that as soon as possible by addressing, each leader addressing the key concerns of the other leader. So we need to compensate for the absence of that overall resolution of the main issues which the Secretary General had encouraged.
Süleyman Ergüçlü: Mr. de Soto, this is my personal observation. I lately got the feeling that the talks, the process itself is turning into a waste of time. What I mean by this is that for example in the last couple of meetings President Denktash and Mr. Clerides have been discussing the Belgian constitution. I ask myself what does this have to do with the Cyprus problem? Because the Belgian constitution issue came on the table with a proposal from Mr. Denktash that the Belgian representation at the EU could be an example to a united Cyprus, after a solution entering the EU. But now they are discussing the details of the Belgian constitution as a whole, I understand. Isnt this a waste of time?
De Soto: Well I do not want to encourage a public discussion of the subjects that are under consideration in the talks. I believe that there is far too much of that going on right now and I dont think it actually helps. And I dont mind saying this because both Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash know very well that I think it would be much better if nothing were said at all about what is going on behind closed doors. But the fact is that it is being said. Now let me just comment on the general principle that the fact that an issue is being considered which seems totally distant or remote from Cyprus does not mean that it might not have some utility. Cyprus of course requires Cypriot solutions. There is no question about that. But there is very little left to invent and if there is a benefit to be obtained from mechanisms used in one constitution or another somewhere else in the world, why not.
Süleyman Ergüçlü: Mr. de Soto, in a statement this morning to the Greek Cypriot News Agency, when we look at the statement in general, you seem unsatisfied with the outcome of the talks. June is over and there is nothing in sight. With this being the case what are you going to tell the Secretary General and the Security Council?
De Soto: Well what I am doing here is anticipating what I know to be the Secretary Generals disappointment for the reasons that I mentioned earlier, it would be of great usefulness, it would have greatly helped if we had been able to break the core issues by now. And the Secretary General very much felt that, despite the difficulties involved, it would have been possible to do so by the end of the month that just ended, if there had been the requisite sense of urgency and political will and flexibility on the two sides. Now this does not mean that time has been wasted for the last few months. I think that it is possible even now for the participants and for ourselves, the United Nations who are there to help them, to identify the emerging shape of what the parties might one day come to agreement on. So it is not time wasted. But what concerns us is the pace, the lack of intensity of the negotiations as the opportunity that still exists draws to a close over the second half of the year, and the lingering unwillingness sometimes to think outside the box which they have sometimes frame themselves. As I said earlier the parties, both of them but perhaps more one than the other, and dont ask me to specify, do have a tendency to remain prisoners of their own dialectic. And that is not helpful. We hope to see a change.
Süleyman Ergüçlü: Are you going to advise the Security Council or the Secretary General for the UN to take a more active role. Because you said, in your statement to the Greek Cypriot News Agency, that the two sides are having difficulties in negotiating on their own.
De Soto: Well it is clear that the most desirable way to carry out this process would be that the two parties, by themselves, conduct this negotiation and produce a comprehensive settlement. However, Cyprus falls into the catagory of conflicts and disputes which are long standing and deeply entrenched, where it is sometimes difficult even for the most authoritative of leaders, which is the case with Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash, to distance themselves somewhat and make bold suggestions. They have a lot of politicians and others watching them and looking for signs of weaknesses. So its a normal dynamic in such negotiations. And for these reasons some third party assistance is frequently called upon. But the key is that the solution should be a Cypriot solution and should be agreeable or as agreeable as possible for both sides. Whoever plays a third party role should, must keep in mind that the purpose is to assist the parties.
Süleyman Ergüçlü: Mr. de Soto, still can we say that these talks have not yielded the expected result by the end of june, but it hasnt been a waste of time. Certain amount of progress has been achieved. Can we say that?
De Soto: Well its difficult to make an assessment of the degree of progress at any given moment. Instantaneous snapshot will never really depict the situation accurately. Especially because the leaders have agreed on the basic rule that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. We are talking about a deal that must be reached as part of a package. Hence a comprehensive settlement. So its hard to measure progress. I say that not all of the time has been wasted, but I think it will be accurate at the same time to say that some time has been wasted. More than is desirable, and certainly more than is necessary.
Süleyman Ergüçlü: Another thing you said in your statement this morning, you said there are two different processes. The EU enlargement issue is a separate issue and the UN Secretary Generals good offices mission is a separate issue. But they are somehow interlinked. Can you elaborate on this Mr. de Soto?
De Soto: Yes. I said and I ratify this, they are clearly two separate processes. Each one has its own dynamic, its own logic. And in the case of the UN process, we have our own mandate from the member states through the Security Council. The EU is not itself involved in any way in the negotiations but to say there is no connection between the two would be the same thing as arguing that these talks these negotiations are taking place in a laboratory somewhere. And Cyprus is not a laboratory and we do not conduct the talks with test tubes or other instruments that are used in the laboratory. Cyprus exists within a certain context, geographical, political and you cannot ignore the fact that things are going on in the outside world. There is a lot of thought and attention being given for instance to Europe amongst all of the parties that are involved. Greek Cypriots, the Turkish Cypriots, Greece of course is a member of the EU, Turkey desires to be a member of the EU, the UK is also in the EU and also a permanent member of the Security Council. Theres a rapprochment distinct between Greece and Turkey. All of these are relevant factors by large positive factors. So what one hopes is that the opportunity will be seized and we believe that that is the desire of the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots.
Süleyman Ergüçlü: Mr. de Soto, do we have enough ground and enough reason to maintain our hopes for a solution in the next 6 months?
De Soto: I think that there is still ground for hope and there is still ground for optimism, based on the clear interest of all concerned of reaching a settlement within the next few months. And of course that means that the leaders will have to make sometimes difficult choices. There is no such thing as a solution which is ideal for all concerned. Compromises will have to be made. We hope that it will be possible by and large the interests the underlying concerns of all and it is feasible, it can be done. Heavy responsibility weighs on the shoulders of the leaders involved and we hope that they will be supported by their people and by all who watch what is happening.
Süleyman Ergüçlü: Mr. de Soto thank you very much for accepting our invitation and sharing your views with us.
De Soto: My pleasure Mr. Ergüçlü. Pleasure to be on your programme again.
Süleyman Ergüçlü: Thank you very much.