Prospects for reunifying Cyprus have never been better – UN envoy

Prospects for reunifying Cyprus have never been better – UN envoy

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon  with Special Adviser Alexander Downer
The outlook for resolving the long-running dispute on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus looks promising given recent events, including last week’s announcement by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders that they will hold full-fledged talks in early September, a senior United Nations envoy said today.

“Developments over the past months have fostered a genuine sense that prospects have perhaps never been better to achieve a comprehensive settlement favourable to all Cypriots,” the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, Alexander Downer, told a news conference in Nicosia.

Earlier today Mr. Downer paid courtesy calls on Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

In May the two leaders committed themselves in a statement to working towards “a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality, as defined by relevant Security Council resolutions.”

The partnership will comprise a Federal Government with a single international personality, along with a Turkish Cypriot Constituent State and a Greek Cypriot Constituent State, which will be of equal status.

Mr. Downer said his separate meetings with the two men went very well, and that he was encouraged by what he heard. “Clearly you have two leaders who are sincere in their commitment and engagement to move forward together towards a comprehensive settlement.”

The former Australian foreign minister will be back in Cyprus in early September for the formal launch of the full-fledged talks, which will be held under UN auspices.

The UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) has been in place on the island since 1964 after the outbreak of intercommunal violence. It is tasked with preventing a recurrence of fighting, contributing to a return to normal conditions and the maintenance of law and order.