UN official voices cautious optimism on progress of Cyprus reunification talks

9 December 2009
Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer speaks with reporters

The Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders are finding “growing convergence” on many of the issues that have divided the two sides on the Mediterranean island, a United Nations official said today as he expressed cautious optimism that UN-backed talks aimed at reunifying Cyprus will succeed.

Alexander Downer, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus, told journalists at UN Headquarters in New York that Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been “making steady progress” since their second round of talks began in September.

Mr. Downer said he was “cautiously optimistic that an agreement can be reached,” noting that the leaders were acting in good faith and working hard to reach solutions to areas of contention between the two sides.

Mr. Downer and Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Cyprus, briefed the Security Council earlier today on recent developments on the island, where a UN peacekeeping force – known as UNFICYP – has been in place since 1964.

Mr. Christofias and Mr. Talat met today in the UN protected area in Nicosia, holding a 90-minute tête-à-tête that focused on economic matters. The leaders are scheduled to hold two more meetings later this month.

In his most recent report on the issue, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the parties were making solid progress and that the gaps between them had narrowed.

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

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

Today Mr. Downer stressed that “this is a matter for Cypriots. What the international community wants is for Cyprus to reunite.”


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