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Reunification Plan Hangs in Balance on Governance

reunification planWith all chapters covered and a trilateral meeting with UN Secretary-general Ban ki-Moon set for October 30th and 31st, a new reunification plan hangs in the balance on governance and power-sharing issues, according to information after the latest talks between Cyprus' leaders.

The Turkish-Cypriot side is set to revise its positions on executive power in the application of the four freedoms, said President Demetris Christofias.

"I really hope that the Turkish-Cypriot side comes up with revised proposals that do not smell of - or do not lead covertly - into two states," he said.

Christofias said that the Turkish-Cypriot side has rescinded an agreement with former leader Mehmet Ali Talat: "Our agreement with Mr. Talat eventually led to full implementation of all four freedoms in federal Cyprus, with a transition period in between," said the president.

The leaders have their final meeting ahead of their trilateral summit with Ban ki-Moon on Friday October 21st. They are currently in a new phase of talks and trying to reach agreements on the most difficult chapters of governance and power-sharing and property.

The talks may continue into 2013, but this will be confirmed by the Secretary-general, according to information from UN Special Advisor Alexander Downer.

"The United Nations has been asked to help with these negotiations. We’ll help with the negotiations for so long as we think that we can do something useful," said Downer.

Downer will give his usual progress report to the UNSG, he said.

A reunification agreement is seen as key to avoiding further tensions over gas-and-oil exploration in Cyprus waters. Turkey has beefed up its naval presence around the island and there have been several reports of warships coming close to passenger vessels. Ankara disputes the Republic of Cyprus' sovereign right to explore and exploit undersea reserves of gas and oil on the basis that it does not represent the Turkish Cypriots.

But in spite of a clear danger from Turkey, the president is under fire from domestic political parties, who say he has not informed the National Council of the latest developments in negotiations. This presents the danger that parties like DIKO will resist Christofias' reunification plan on the basis that they disagree with proposals on a rotating presidency, and what to do with 50,000 Turkish settlers who live in the north, amongst other issues.

With Christofias' credibility in tatters after the deadly explosion at Mari naval base, his chances of winning over the Greek-Cypriot community and gaining support for his plan are less than encouraging.

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