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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-12-20

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [01] Hercus - Press Conference

  • 1455:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Hercus - Press Conference

    Nicosia, Dec 20 (CNA) -- "Shuttle talks" should continue for as long as progress is being made, UN Secretary General's resident representative, Dame Ann Hercus, said today, pointing out that a "substantive and substantial" process is underway.

    Speaking to Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot journalists, the UN representative also stressed the great importance of confidentiality in this process, noting that it assists the exploration of ideas in ways that would be impossible in a public debate.

    The UN Deputy Special Representative disclosed very little about the "shuttle talks" process and also talked about the UN peacekeeping force's (UNFICYP) mission on the island.

    She commended UNFICYP for its job in preventing tension, as well as the two sides for their cooperation "in maintaining the cease-fire" and noted that "there have been no major incidents".

    Nevertheless, Dame Ann expressed concern over hunters entering the buffer zone and "crossings of the so-called maritime security line", as she said.

    "I would like to take this opportunity to once again warn hunters that they should not enter the buffer zone. With their camouflage dress and their guns they are easily mistaken by soldiers of one side for soldiers of the other side, particularly at dusk and in the early morning hours. I simply do not want a tragic Christmas for any family", Hercus said.

    Pointing out that a number of serious incidents happened as a result of "an increasing number of fishing and pleasure boats crossing the maritime security line in the east, which represents the mid-point between the seaward extension of the true cease-fire line that runs out from the end of the buffer zone," Hercus said UNFICYP has decided "to take some action".

    She said improved warning markings on the shore on that line will be set up so that boat operators can better ascertain their exact position and avoid crossing that line in error.

    Dame Ann added that the six-monthly report of the Secretary General on UNFICYP has been submitted to the Security Council on December 7, but as a result of the Iraq crisis its discussion has been postponed until some time next week.

    Concerning "shuttle talks", Dame Ann said she reported to the UN Chief ten days ago that after eight weeks of "shuttle talks" she was "genuinely encouraged by the two leaders' (President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash) positive and constructive approach to the goal set by the Secretary General".

    She pointed out that Kofi Annan submitted to the Security Council, on December 14, a progress report on "shuttle talks" in which he reefers to progress been made in "shuttle talks".

    The discussion of the letter has again been postponed as a result of the Iraq crisis, "but I assume that too will be dealt with some time next week," she added.

    Referring to "shuttle talks", she said she "had a very intensive series of meetings with both leaders in pursuance of the initiative of the UN Secretary General of September 30", which has "the dual goal of reducing tension and promoting progress towards a just and lasting settlement".

    "The 'shuttle talks', as they have become known, give me a special and concentrated opportunity to work with and to get to know better both his excellency Mr. Clerides and his excellency Mr. Denktash," Dame Ann said.

    Stressing the confidentiality of the talks, she, however said that there were a couple of characteristics she was happy to share, pointing out that one of them was that "I do not tell one leader what the other has said".

    "This means that both leaders have an opportunity to talk freely and frankly with me and they do," she added.

    Dame Ann also stressed that "because of that privacy and confidentiality, ideas can be explored in a way which is impossible in a public debate with the media hanging on every word".

    She also pointed out that many people, "including many journalists", as she remarked, have expressed their support to this confidentiality rules "because that is in the best interests of Cyprus".

    Hercus described "shuttle talks" as "a journey, a road, a structure," stressing that "it makes no sense to set a time limit on that process, except one of common sense. And the common sense word for me is: The process keeps going as long as progress is being made".

    She explained that "shuttle talks", "build something brick by brick or perhaps most accurately, jigsaw piece by jigsaw piece. Working always towards concrete, achievable, mutually acceptable, forward looking results".

    "I was able to report to the Secretary General, I believe we have a substantive and substantial process underway," she said, adding that looking towards 1999 she remains "a practical, creative realist".

    Hercus said both President Clerides and Denktash reaffirmed their commitment to the continuation of "shuttle talks", noting that on 12 January she is meeting President Clerides and two days later Denktash.

    Replying to questions she said the prospect of proximity or face to face talks between President Clerides and Rauf Denktash was "simply not discussed".

    Asked how she could say there was progress if the two leaders do not know what she discusses each one of them, Dame Ann said: "Because I am the conjoin part in the middle. If you work it out it is actually a very sensible and very common process".

    Concluding Hercus said "to raise and blow expectations is simply not a useful exercise and it adds to speculation I think, of particularly unhelpful kind".

    Hercus announced that Sarah Russel will start work as new UNFICYP Spokesperson on January 4.

    CNA MCH/GG/1998
    Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
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