Leaders quicken pace at UN-backed reunification talks for Cyprus

21 December 2009
Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias (right) and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat (file photo)

The Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders are intensifying their United Nations-backed talks aimed at reunifying the Mediterranean island, scheduling two three-day series of discussions next month after a senior UN official said they had made good progress over the past year.

Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat met today under UN auspices in Nicosia, the capital, and announced their intentions in a joint statement read out by the Coordinator of the UN’s Good Offices Mission, Yasser Sabra.

They have been meeting regularly under UN auspices in a bid to establish 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.

Earlier this month, the Security Council extended the mandate of the 45-year-old UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) until 15 June, 2010. Now mustering 926 troops and 68 police, it was set up in 1964 to prevent further fighting between the communities. After hostilities erupted again in 1974, its responsibilities were expanded to supervise ceasefire lines, maintain a buffer zone and undertake humanitarian activities.

In the forthcoming meetings, the two leaders will aim at more convergences on governance and power-sharing, the economy and European Union (EU) matters, as well as on the property issue, according to the statement.

In remarks to the media over the weekend, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special

Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer said the two leaders had showed “a very strong commitment to achieve a successful negotiation and they have made good progress” throughout the last year. He also said that the next year would be a pivotal point.

They will meet next on 4 January to discuss EU matters. The three-day meetings will take place on 11-13 January and 18-20 January.

 

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