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Property issues the focus of latest round of UN-backed talks in Cyprus

Property issues the focus of latest round of UN-backed talks in Cyprus

Alexander Downer, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Cyprus
The issue of property was the main topic of discussion during today’s United Nations-facilitated talks between the Greek Cypriot leader and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart, part of a process aimed at reunifying the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.

The property aspect of the talks – which began in 2008 after the then leaders of the two communities committed themselves to working towards “a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality, as defined by relevant Security Council resolutions” – tries to resolve numerous complex claims between the two sides on property seized decades ago.

Alexander Downer, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, told reporters today that he will facilitate a next round of talks on Monday.

Characterizing today’s talks between Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu and Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias as “good,” Mr. Downer said after the meeting that the leaders “were able to talk very frankly with each other about issues that they have, and differences that they have, and convergences that they are confident that they can build.”

The two leaders have scheduled meetings through August, a holiday month in Cyprus, which is “a pretty good sign of the level of their commitment,” the UN official said.

Last month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Mr. Eroglu to “grasp the current political window of opportunity to reach a settlement” in the Cyprus dispute.

“The Secretary-General encouraged Mr. Eroğlu to grasp the current political window of opportunity to reach a settlement,” according to information released by the UN spokesperson’s office. “He hoped that the two leaders would make serious advances in the coming months, understanding that this would require compromises on both sides.”

For his part Mr. Eroğlu voiced his commitment to reaching a settlement, adding he believed it could be achieved this year with goodwill and compromises from both sides.

Also in June, the Security Council extended the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus, known as UNFICYP, for an additional six months. The mission was set up in March 1964 following the outbreak of violence between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities.