United Nations.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Cyprus Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou has described his meeting on Tuesday with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as friendly and constructive. In commends after the meeting, Kyprianou said that he had the chance to present the positions and concerns of the Cypriot government, its expectations of the procedure that is underway for a solution to the Cyprus problem. Kyprianou also said he told the SG that the key to a solution of the Cyprus issue lies with Ankara.
Kyprianou said his meeting with the SG was “very constructive and friendly” which gave him the opportunity to “inform the Secretary-General of the positions, the views, the concerns and the hopes of our side in this new effort to solve the Cyprus problem”.
Concerning the joint statement read by UN Secretary-General Special Advisor on Cyprus, Alexander Downer at the end of the talks on Tuesday between President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, the Foreign Minister said “it is very important that this is treated as what it is, being a joint statement, not an interim agreement and not anything more than what it actually is because this is the philosophy of the negotiations, that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.
To a question what does yesterday’s joint statement mean for him, Kyprianou said it is a factual statement. “It presents where we stand today, what has been done until now. It does not have a legal significant but it is a listing of facts and of course it stays on the basic principles in the general description and each side as the statement says can proceed with more detailed analysis to the respective communities of what has been discussed or agreed”.
He also said that although there has been convergence of views in the three chapters that are referred in the statement, “at the same time there is still disagreement in the chapters themselves but also in the other subjects. So I would say that it’s encouraging message that there’s been progress and that we have moved forward but at the same time sends the message that there is still a long way to go and a lot of work to be done until we can reach a comprehensive settlement. So we still have a long way to go”.
The Foreign Minister said he and Ban discussed the difficulties “that we will be facing in the next phase of the negotiations entering some very difficult subjects and I referred particularly to the very important role of Turkey in this process”.
He further said he had the opportunity to refer specifically to the issue of Famagusta and the fenced area of Varosha. Beginning of the High-level Agreement of Kyprianou and Denktash of ’79 and Security-Council Resolutions that followed after that, even reports of the Secretary-General until very recently, state that this can and should be treated as a separate issue in relation to the rest of the Cyprus problem, Minister Kyprianou said.
“And we also had a resolution of the European Parliament in this respect. The issue of Varosha is an issue that falls directly under the responsibility of the Turkish Government and not the Turkish Cypriots and in that sense we asked the Secretary-General to help with the effort of convincing the Turkish Government to allow UN experts to enter the fenced area, to begin the study on the structural engineering and architectural situation with a view of one day to be able to open the city, reconstructing it and allowing its inhabitants to return”.
However, he said that in the first phase, given that Varosha has been a ghost town for the last 36 years, the first step would be to allow the UN experts to enter the area. “I think it is a humanitarian issue, it is not a political issue, it is not something that can be dealt with at the table of the negotiations between the two sides on the island. That is the responsibility of the Turkish Government so we asked the Secretary-General to encourage the Turkish Government to be positive in this respect”, Kyprianou noted.
The Cypriot FM said “it is very important someone who is an interlocutor, someone who is very constructive and supports this target of the bizonal, bicommunal federation but at the same time it is important to have an active constructive role on the part of the Turkish Government. Especially on the subjects that will follow in the next phase being the issues of security, of territorial adjustments and so forth.”
Regarding the Turkish government’s role, Kyprianou said “so far is acting more as an observer. But we believe that even though the Turkish government is not sitting at the negotiating table, is a party to this conflict and therefore we would like to see the Turkish government sending more positive messages and taking more positive and firm positions on the various issues. Not just to send a positive signal to the Greek Cypriot community but also to reinforce what is being done by the Turkish Cypriot leadership. We had the statements by the Prime Minister recently. These are encouraging signals but of course, at the end of the day what counts is what is said at the negotiations and not in interviews. So we expect to see these signals being transformed to negotiating positions when the negotiations resume”.
To a question what he thinks will happen if Talat is not elected in the so called elections in the Turkish occupied north for the new leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community,
Kyprianou remarked that “there is no question that this would complicate matters and things would be difficult” noting that both candidates have a different approach. “So we expect to have complications and then the role of Turkey will become even more important in that case. So even though the Turkish Cypriots will decide for themselves at the same time we can see complications if there’s a change of the interlocutor in case that they do not follow what has been done so far and try to change the basis of the solution”, he added.
Referring to the position expressed by the other candidate in the so called elections in the occupied areas of Cyprus, Dervis Eroglu, that he is committed to the negotiating process, Kyprianou replied it is positive that he stated that he will not abandon the negotiation and he will continue the negotiations. At the same time, he noted, “what is worrying is that we haven’t seen any commitment made regarding the basis of these negotiations which was decided already in March of 2008. So this raises some concerns”, he noted.
Kyprianou said that there is commitment by both sides and the Turkish Government that the negotiations continue. He also said he did not think the Secretary-General is preparing anything given that the nature of this procedure, which is between the two communities is facilitated by the United Nations. “So the United Nations will continue supporting this process and we’d like to think that the results of this electoral process in April will not change this procedure and we will be able to resume from where the two leaders have left of today (Tuesday). But if things change we will have then to revisit the whole issue”, he remarked.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said on Tuesday the UN is committed to supporting the process that would lead to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem. A UN spokesperson, referring to the meeting said, “The Secretary-General thanked the Foreign Minister for his personal participation in the International Donors Conference ”towards a new future for Haiti” that will be held on Wednesday.
On the Cyprus problem, the Spokesperson said Ban noted positively the joint statement issued by the two leaders on 30 March 2010, which underscores that important progress in the chapters of governance and power-sharing, European Union and economic matters had been achieved.
He was also encouraged by the start of the construction work on Yesilirimak/Limnitis road on Monday.
He also reaffirmed the UN’s commitment to supporting the Cypriot-led talks, which should lead to comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.