Leaders Agree to Intensify Talks on UN Urging
The leaders of Cyprus' two largest communities - Demetris Christofias and Dervis Eroglu - have agreed to intensify talks with the aim of reunifying the island after a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon in New York.
Speaking after the meeting, Ban Ki Moon said that the intensified meetings will establish a "practical plan for overcoming the major remaining points of disagreement." There will be another meeting between the three men in Geneva at the end of January 2011, he said.
"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," said Ban Ki Moon.
The secretary-general will be issuing a report to the Security Council later this month, and he said that he "promised the leaders that the report will be frank and fair", and that yesterday's meeting has helped to inform that report.
The meeting between the leaders and Ban Ki Moon was "a constructive exchange of views on the core issues, including governance and power-sharing, economy, EU matters, property, territory and security," said the UN secretary-general.
"The international community want a solution, not endless talks"
Ban Ki Moon also touched on his visit to Cyprus earlier this year, saying he "could feel the hope and expectation among people on both sides for a settlement that would finally reunify Cyprus. Real progress was being made in the talks."
"That sense of anticipation has faded, however, as talks continued throughout the remainder of the year without clear progress or a clear end in sight," he said.
The UN organised the meeting with the leaders to boost momentum "if the two sides are to reach a settlement while there is still the time and the political opportunity to do so," said Ban Ki Moon.
"The people of Cyprus and the international community want a solution, not endless talks," he said.
During the meeting, both leaders said they recognize the need to move more quickly and decisively in order to reach a settlement.
"Serious differences remain, but both leaders expressed their commitment to work together, as partners, toward that goal. I should also note that projecting positive messages is critical if any agreement is to be trusted and embraced by the respective publics in referenda," said Ban Ki Moon.
Commenting on the meeting, President Demetris Christofias said he was satisfied with the way it went and there had been no grounds for fears that the Greek Cypriots would be pressured into a solution:
"I came to New York City bombarded by speculation and alarmism. I leave New York very pleased with the outcome of this meeting. None of the speculation has taken place. There are no timetables, no threat from anywhere, and there is no intention by the Secretary General to pressure," said Christofias.
He said that he "wants to succeed" in breaking the current deadlock in reunification talks, which have slowed dramatically over the contentious property issue. After Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974, it occupied 37 percent of the northern part of the island. The Greek-Cypriot refugees who fled the north also abandoned their property in the area; and ever since the invasion, community leaders have negotiated - and failed to reach agreements - on how to settle the property issue.