Geneva.- Βy Emilia Christofi, (CNA)
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said on Wednesday that the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus have agreed to intensify their negotiations for a solution of the Cyprus problem through a series of additional meetings in the coming weeks, adding that he would make himself available to them again soon to continue to take stock of progress and to encourage the parties in further narrowing their differences.
The UN chief was speaking after a meeting at the UN offices in Geneva with the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, namely President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu. The meeting began on Wednesday morning and concluded in the early afternoon with a statement by the UN Secretary General.
The UN Secretary General extended his ”deep appreciation” to the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus ”for joining me here in Geneva today to take further steps towards a solution of the Cyprus problem.”
”Two months ago, I called the leaders together in New York because I felt the negotiations were losing momentum. During our meeting, I asked the two leaders to identify the core issues in all of the chapters yet to be resolved, and they have done this. I also asked them to agree on a practical plan. Both sides have worked energetically to take the negotiations ahead. Despite Mr. Eroglu’s heart surgery, the two leaders held four meetings, while their representatives have met a further 13 times,” he said.
He noted that ”there has been progress since we last met in November” and that, ”based on discussions today, it is clear that the two leaders worked to move closer together through a range of bridging proposals, notably in the chapters of Economy, EU matters, and Governance and Power-Sharing.”
”Nonetheless, more work must be done to reach further convergences on the outstanding core issues,” the UN Secretary General pointed out.
He also noted that ”today, we have identified a number of elements designed to maintain momentum and to address more directly the details of a workable, mutually beneficial solution,” adding that ”the meeting’s spirited and substantive discussions contributed to clearing the air on several key issues.”
”The leaders have discussed the outstanding key issues in a more interrelated fashion, since a settlement proposal will need to consist of an integrated package across chapters. I have encouraged both sides to talk to experts that I can make available on the technical aspects of the property issue,” he said.
The UN Secretary General noted that ”the sides have also agreed to intensify the negotiations through a series of additional meetings in the coming weeks and I have pledged to make myself available to them again soon to continue to take stock of progress and to encourage the parties in further narrowing the differences.”
”As recent surveys have shown, both communities in Cyprus want more than talks. They want a solution. The leaders have heard that message and they are acting. I welcome the steps that the leaders have taken today which give a clear indication of their commitment to reunifying Cyprus as soon as possible,” he said.
He noted that ”at the end of February I will be providing the Security Council with a report on the state of the talks,” adding that ”I will closely follow the efforts of the leaders in the coming weeks as they reach further convergences across all chapters.”
”I am certain that, if the constructive spirit that I witnessed today continues, I will have a positive report to submit,” he pointed out.
The Secretary General said that they had agreed not to take questions from the press because ”these are issues of great sensitivity” and that ”this is a very sensitive process of negotiations.”
G/C SIDE SATISFIED
The Greek Cypriot side is satisfied from Wednesday’s meeting in Geneva, political sources said after the meeting of the leaders of the communities of Cyprus with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. During the meeting, efforts by Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Erogly to secure, by extortion, a deadline for a solution to the Cyprus issue by the end of March, failed.
On the contrary, Eroglu assured the Secretary General that he accepts the convergences achieved during the talks his predecessor Mehmet Ali Talat had with President Christofias. However, this will become evident only in Nicosia when the negotiations will resume.
During Wednesday’s meeting, the UN Secretary General listened to the views of both sides on most of the issues concerning the Cyprus issue.
The Greek Cypriot side expressed its readiness to attend, whenever the Secretary General calls for a new meeting. This could possibly take place in late March or early April.
According to political observers, these frequent meetings that are being pursued by the Turkish Cypriot side aim at leading the process to a deadlock and eventually a four- or five-party conference.
During Wednesday’s meeting, the position of the Greek Cypriot side that it does not accept mediation or deadlines was reconfirmed, and the Secretary General agreed with the position of the Greek Cypriot side on the basis of the discussions for a solution to the Cyprus issue. In addition, the Secretary General took a stance on a number of issues during the meeting.
The Secretary General said that if the sides are nearing convergences on various issues concerning governance, then they will be in a position to discuss setting up a multilateral conference or even a meeting of the permanent members of the Security Council.
According to the sources, the Cyprus issue should remain under the UN and the more active involvement of the EU, something which the UN Secretary General’s Special Advisor on Cyprus Alexander Downer is seeking, is not favoured.
Meanwhile, the UN in Geneva issued a statement in regard to the issuance of ID badges with reference to the puppet regime in the Turkish occupied areas.
It said it was a technical mistake and that the badges were being replaced.
The UN underlined that there was ”no change in the UN position on the Cyprus issue” and that meetings such as Wednesday’s, hosted by the UN regarding the Cyprus problem, are conducted between the leaders of the two communities. It also said that the Republic of Cyprus ”is of course a member, in good standing of the UN”.
UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky referred to the statement made by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on Wednesday, after his meeting in Geneva with the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, noting that the UN chief “said it is clear that the two leaders worked to move closer together through a range of bridging proposals.”
“Nonetheless, he has said, more work must be done on the outstanding core issues. The Secretary General said the two sides have also agreed to intensify the negotiations to a series of additional meetings in the coming weeks, and he pledged to make himself available to them again soon,” Nesirky noted.
Replying to questions, Nesirky pointed out that the Secretary General “is being personally involved in this, as you have seen in November and now today, and he said he will remain personally involved, and that is a sign not just of his own personal commitment but of the UN’s commitment to this, to help as the two leaders from the two communities work to bridge the differences that they have” and “that is really where we are.”
Asked when the UN chief would be back in New York, Nesirky said “the Secretary General will be back, if I am not mistaken, on the 6th of February.”
Invited to say if the Secretary General was confident that this was going to be a crucial year for the Cyprus issue and that his meetings with the leaders of the two communities could be a political success for him and UN, Nesirky said “the most important thing is what this process means for the people of Cyprus, and really that is where the focus should be and that is why he is encouraging them to do more work.”
“He has recognised that the leaders have been able to work, in repeated meetings, to come closer together in some areas, but obviously they have some way to go in other areas and that is why he is saying that more work needs to be done, particularly on some of these outstanding core issues,” he added.
Concluding his remarks, Nesirky noted that the Secretary General “said that this is an important process for the people of Cyprus, because they are the ones who stand to gain considerably from a solution to this longstanding problem.”
Cyprus Government expects that there will be progress in the ongoing negotiations to resolve the Cyprus problem by the time UN Secretary General submits his report to the Security Council, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said. However, he noted, progress can be achieved if constructive spirit is demonstrated on the negotiating table.
He added that President Christofias will continue to negotiate on the agreed basis for a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation in line with the UN resolutions, and expressed hope that the Turkish Cypriot side will also demonstrate such attitude.
As regards the Geneva meeting between President Christofias, Turkish Cypriot leader and Ban Ki moon, Stephanou said that the UN Secretary expressed his readiness to make available to both sides UN experts on technical issues regarding property issue.
He pointed out however that it depends on each side how they will take advantage of the expertise, knowledge and assistance these experts could offer, explaining that the UN experts will not participate in the negotiations.