In The Hague Annan holds talks on finalizing Cyprus deal

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today met with the Greek Cypriot leader, Tassos Papadopoulos, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, in The Hague in a last-minute bid to gain approval of a plan that would enable a united Cyprus to join the European Union next month.On 28 February, the Secretary-General had asked the two parties to come to The Hague to tell him whether or not they are ready to enter into a binding commitment to putting a revised plan for a comprehensive settlement to separate simultaneous referenda on 30 March.In an opinion piece published today in the International Herald Tribune, the Secretary-General stressed that an “opportunity beckons” for the two parties to settle the Cyprus issue. “At a time of tension and discord in the world, the Christian Greek Cypriots and the Muslim Turkish Cypriots have a rendezvous with history – a chance for Cyprus to be transformed from a seemingly insoluble international problem to a beacon of international hope,” he wrote. “No one says that re-unification will be easy, but everyone knows that continued division will be much harder.”This morning, the Secretary-General met first with Mr. Papadopoulos at the Peace Palace of The Hague, and then held talks with Mr. Denktash. Before leaving the Palace at the end of the morning session, Mr. Annan met again with the Under Secretary-General of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ugur Ziyal, who he had already met with yesterday.Consultations among the various parties are to continue at the Peace Palace in the afternoon.In other news from The Hague, the Secretary-General, after his arrival yesterday, met with Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, Jordan’s Ambassador to the UN who serves as the President of the Assembly of the States Parties to the Rome Statutes of the International Criminal Court (ICC), for discussions on various issues relating to the tribunal, which is to be inaugurated tomorrow in The Hague.The Secretary-General, along with Queen Beatrice of the Netherlands and scores of world leaders, will attend the ICC’s inaugural session at the Hall of Knights. During the ceremonies, Prince Al-Hussein will swear in the Court’s 18 elected judges.