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Security Council urges Cypriot leaders to step up UN-backed reunification talks

Security Council urges Cypriot leaders to step up UN-backed reunification talks

The Ledra Street crossing point in Cyprus gets checked for unexploded ordnance
The Security Council today urged the political leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to accelerate momentum gained in United Nations-backed talks aimed at reunifying the Mediterranean island.

In a presidential statement read out by Ambassador Claude Heller of Mexico, which holds the rotating Council presidency for April, the 15-member body also welcomed progress made so far between Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

The two leaders have met 26 times since full-fledged power-sharing negotiations began in September, focusing on concerns involving the harmonization of Federal and Constituent State laws, delicate property issues and European Union membership.

Earlier today the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus said that the “grand vision” to bring the divided nation back together remains complicated but he is hopeful that it will happen.

“There shouldn’t be any expectation that it’s a simple matter to solve, otherwise it would have been solved long ago,” Alexander Downer told the press after briefing the Security Council on the matter.

“It is fair to say, as I’ve said throughout the process, that I’m cautiously optimistic, but I don’t underestimate the difficulties and challenges that are faced,” stressed Mr. Downer.

In May 2008, the two leaders committed themselves 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.

“It is important that all parties in Cyprus, north and south, do support these negotiations, because the alternative is a dark future,” Mr. Downer warned.

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