New York By Apostolis Zoupaniotis
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias has said Tuesday that during the next meeting of the two leaders with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in January it will become evident if the talks for a Cyprus settlement are moving to the end game of the negotiations.
In remarks following the statement of the Secretary General at end of the two-day talks at Greentree mansion in Long Island, President Christofias further said that no great progress was achieved during the meetings to allow for a turning point at the efforts for a Cyprus settlement.
For this reason, he said, the UNSG suggested the two sides meet again with him in the middle of January, following another round of intensive negotiations.
The aim, he added, is to bridge the gap which divides the two sides on fundamental aspects of the Cyprus problem, something which is difficult bearing in mind the differences, but not impossible.
He also said that as long as the talks for a Cyprus settlement continue, we will show good will, will be ready for a solution that will be based on principles and is functional, serving the interests of the people of Cyprus.
Referring to the procedure that was followed during the talks in New York, President Christofias said that the National Council was fully informed on how the procedure was to take place, like the previous three meetings with the SG, but on arrival in New York, the President was informed that there was a change in the way the talks would be carried out. “We made strong representations to the UN and asked for an active involvement of the SG in the talks in the framework of his good offices mission. Something that was accepted”, he added.
President Christofias said that separate meetings were held with UN officials and the leaders with their negotiating teams where the positions of the two sides were discussed but no mediation was held”, or proposals to bridge the gaps were tabled.
He said that the presence of Ban Ki-moon was long during the talks but added “what is the issue? The issue is that during the meetings unfortunately it was not possible to make that great leap to allow for a turning point in the efforts to solve the Cyprus issue. And it is for this reason that the SG, evaluating the results of the meeting and the intensive phase of the negotiations, suggested we meet again in mid January”.
President Christofias said that the aim, by then, will be to “bridge the gap that divides the two sides on various core issues, something that is hard, bearing in mind the differences. Difficult but not impossible”, he remarked.
President Christofias said that the solution would be “one of a compromise, if we want to solve the Cyprus issue on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, which is the longstanding position of the Greek Cypriot side since 1977 and was repeatedly confirmed by the National Council”.
On this basis, he added, we are negotiating, and we are consistent in the principles for a solution and are exhibiting the necessary realism”.
“As long as the negotiations are continuing, we will show good will and will be ready for a solution that is agreed, functional and is based on principles and serves the good interests of the entirety of the people of Cyprus”, he added.
Answering questions, President Christofias said that he agrees with Ban Ki-moon’s invitation for the three to meet again early next year.
“Of course it is our wish too. Why would we come here and hold talks? To waste time? We hold talks to solve the Cyprus problem. The issue is once the differences diminish on the core issues of the Cyprus problem that the SG said little progress was achieved and on others no progress, we will reach a convergence on all aspects of the Cyprus problem. Then he (SG) will be ready to call for an international conference under the aegis of the UN. Our position is that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council should participate, as well as the EU and the guarantor powers, so that we are able to solve the international aspects of the problem, i.e. guarantees, alliances and others”.
Asked how far we are from what the SG described as “end game”, President Christofias said “this will become evident in January”.
He added that “we cannot now talk about how far we are from the end game since we have all agreed to intensify our efforts. We will evaluate this in January”, he concluded.
The talks at Greentree were the fourth meeting of the leaders with the UNSG. The first took place in November 2010, followed by two more meetings held in Geneva on January 26 and July 7, 2011, during which both sides reaffirmed their commitment to finding a comprehensive solution as soon as possible, while in Geneva, on 26 January 2011, the sides agreed to intensify the negotiations.