Cyprus: First day of talks positive and productive, UN says

30 October 2011

The Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders have held "positive, productive and vigorous" discussions during the first of two days of talks between the leaders and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a senior United Nations envoy said tonight.

Speaking at Manhasset, outside New York, where the talks began this morning, the Secretary-General''s Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer, said the UN was pleased with the way that the talks involving Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu were progressing.

These two days of talks represent the fourth time that Mr. Ban has met directly with the two leaders in a bid to strengthen the wider UN-backed process aimed at reunifying the Mediterranean island, and follow a meeting in New York in November last year and talks in Geneva in January and July this year.

Mr. Downer said Mr. Ban met with Mr. Christofias and Mr. Eroglu for two hours today to discuss four core issues: governance and power-sharing, especially regarding the presidency property territory and citizenship.

Mr. Downer and B. Lynn Pascoe, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, then held extensive discussions with the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot delegations that focused on the same core issues.

"I think it is fair to say, and I am quoting the two sides here, rather than using my own words, but it certainly reflects the United Nations'' own view, that these discussions have been positive, productive and vigorous -- appropriately vigorous and certainly positive and productive," Mr. Downer said.

The talks between the two sides will resume tomorrow morning, with Mr. Ban scheduled to participate from tomorrow afternoon until the talks conclude tomorrow evening after a working dinner.

Mr. Downer stressed that it was not the role of the UN to arbitrate in the process or force the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to reach convergences on core issues.

"What we have been doing is talking to the two sides extensively about the positions they have as well as discussing the other side''s positions so there is a full understanding of the positions. But at the end of the day the two sides, where they make convergences, have to make their own convergences."

The UN-backed process began in 2008 with the aim of eventually setting up a federal government with a single international personality in a bi-zonal, bi-communal country, with Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot constituent states of equal status.

The UN has had a peacekeeping mission (UNFICYP) in place on Cyprus since 1964 after an outbreak of inter-communal tensions.


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