At UN, Cypriot leaders agree to intensify contacts to advance peace talks

At UN, Cypriot leaders agree to intensify contacts to advance peace talks

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre) meets with Dimitris Christofias (left) and Dervis Eroglu (file photo)
The leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities agreed today to intensify their contacts to advance progress in the United Nations-backed talks aimed at achieving a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue.

The talks have been going on for some time “without clear progress or a clear end in sight,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said following the meeting at UN Headquarters in New York with Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.

“The peace talks on Cyprus were losing momentum and needed a boost if the two sides are to reach a settlement while there is still the time and the political opportunity to do so,” he told reporters. “Only the leaders can give it that boost.”

Mr. Ban announced that the leaders agreed to intensify their contacts in the coming weeks “in order to establish a practical plan for overcoming the major remaining points of disagreement.”

It was also decided that the Secretary-General and the leaders will meet again at the end of January in Geneva.

“In the meantime, the leaders will identify further convergences and the core issues which still need to be resolved, across all chapters. That, in turn, will help the United Nations determine its own next steps.”

The two leaders have been meeting periodically with the aim of working towards “a bi-communal, bi-zonal 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.

The core issues in the negotiations, which were launched in 2008, include governance and power-sharing, economy, European Union matters, property, territory and security.

“I hope today’s meeting has helped to restore momentum to the process,” said Mr. Ban, who follows the negotiations through his Special Adviser for Cyprus, Alexander Downer.

“The people of Cyprus and the international community want a solution, not endless talks.”

A UN peacekeeping mission, known as UNFICYP, has been in place in Cyprus since 1964 following an outbreak of inter-communal violence.