31 March 2004 - United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today submitted to Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders his final plan to settle the Cyprus problem before its entry into the European Union on 1 May, urging them to "seize this chance for peace" in a reunified nation.
Mr. Annan stepped in to complete the blueprint that will be voted on by the Greek and Turkish Cypriots after six weeks of negotiations failed to broker an agreement. The 9,000-page text containing the basic settlement plan - which calls for a federal government composed of two constituent states both largely running their own affairs - as well as legal formulas and other annexes, will now be put to ballot in separate, simultaneous referenda on 24 April, four days later than planned.
Speaking at the closing of a week of talks in Bürgenstock, Switzerland, the Secretary-General stressed that the United Nations strived to accommodate the concerns of both sides in order to create a "win-win" situation.
"This plan is fair. It is designed to work. And I believe it provides Cypriots with a secure framework for a common future," he said.
Today's agreement caps more than 40 years of United Nations involvement in the Cyprus problem. Since last month, the Greek Cypriot leader, Tassos Papadopoulos, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, held negotiations in Cyprus on the basis of Mr. Annan's much-revised plan.
After the talks moved last week to Switzerland, officials from Greece and Turkey, joined early this week by Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, were on hand to lend a final push in the discussions.
Addressing both sides this evening, the Secretary-General said he had written to the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders outlining the procedures for the referenda. "The time has come for you, the leaders, and for voters in both communities to assess what is before them as an overall package" in the lead-up to the balloting.
"As the people of Cyprus, north and south, debate and consider their future over the next three and a half weeks, they will be looking to you, their leaders, for guidance," Mr. Annan said.
"There have been too many missed opportunities in the past. For the sake of all of you, I urge you not to make the same mistake again," he said. "Let us seize this chance for peace in a United Cyprus Republic."