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UN Under-Secretary General Lynn Pascoe Says the Leaders of the Two Communites are Committed to a Settlement
2008-06-19 10:42:34

Nicosia, Jun 18 - UN Under-Secretary General Lynn Pascoe has found that the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus are very committed to moving forward and finally resolving the Cyprus problem and leading to the reunification of Cyprus. The two leaders have expressed optimism regarding the outcome of the process.

Speaking at a press conference at Ledra Palace in the UN-controlled buffer zone, having concluded a visit to Cyprus, Mr. Pascoe said the advisers of the leaders would be meeting on Thursday with the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus Taye Brook Zerihoun, in order to set the date of the next meeting between President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, which he hoped would take place next week.

Referring to his meetings on Tuesday with the leaders of the two communities, Mr. Pascoe said he found that ''the two leaders are very committed to moving forward and finally resolving the Cyprus problem and to getting a unified Cyprus,'' adding that ''this is a huge effort that has been going on for so many years and is one that the UN want to be as totally supportive of as we possibly can be.''

''The process is centered here, what the two leaders decide and their teams decide is what is important to its people. The rest of us on the outside are trying to be helpful. I think the two leaders were off to a very good start with the March 21 and the May 23 statements. The UN and the entire international community are solemnly behind their statements and the direction to which they are heading,'' he added.

Referring to the working groups and technical committees (bicommunal teams of experts), Mr. Pascoe said ''this process is going quite well,'' adding that his understanding is that they will continue ''as a supporting mechanism to help the leaders who are going to be working on the hard political questions'' and expressed hope that ''as the time goes on, hopefully we will have agreements out of these groups.''

Replying to questions, Mr. Pascoe said the leaders of the two communities ''are working along very well, we are trying to be helpful to the process where we can.''

''The advisers of the two leaders are to meet with Mr. Zerihoun tomorrow to set the date of the next meeting between the two leaders, which should come hopefully next week, schedules permitting. Of course there are going to be bumps in the road and ups and downs but my strong sense is that the overall direction is a very positive one. I remain optimistic that the process is moving forward and I think we will be getting in substantive talks in the not too distant future,'' Mr. Pascoe noted.

He added that ''the process has been moving forward and the leaders' statement on the 23rd of May is extremely encouraging of the process and moving things forward and what they are going to be doing.''

''Everyday because this is quite an intense issue, and rightly so, you are going to follow every little up and down in the process. One day it will look better,'' Mr. Pascoe said.

He noted that the working groups and technical committees ''were not designed to negotiate and resolve problems,'' explaining that ''their job is to look at the past body of work, to look at new ideas, to put everything out there together on the table, anybody can put anything on the table that they want and you see what there is already agreement on.''

''This is not about negotiating major issues. This is looking at the whole thing to see what they really need to talk about and what they don’t. And in that respect it is going very well. It is not a surprise that on the last controversial topic more progress has been made,'' he added.

To other questions, Mr. Pascoe said the UN Secretary General ''came out with a very strong statement of support after the May 23 statement and the Security Council report with some back and forth which can be argued, but at least they very strongly said they were supportive of the report.''

''I think the issue and the most important thing to me is that I really look forward to the day when no one will care what is in any of those reports. Because what is important is what is going on, on the ground here, not what we are reporting a word change here a word changed there,'' he said.

Mr. Pascoe also expressed the surprise of the UN Secretary General about ''the number of times in talking with world leaders that people ask about Cyprus.''

''This is a very hot issue internationally. There are huge expectations internationally that Cyprus will make it this time,'' Mr. Pascoe pointed out.

Replying to questions, Mr. Pascoe said he had ''several extensive discussions with the Turkish government, as well as the Greek government, as well as the EU, as well as others that are involved in this issue and I detect a very strong desire to move forward in all these capitals too.''

The UN official also said that ''we should not be pessimistic about the process if we want it to work,'' adding that ''it is very important that we not spend all of our time living in the past but we talk about building the future.''

''I am optimistic, I think we are going to make it, and I hope the people of Cyprus, both north and south, believe that we are going to make it. If they don’t believe that we are going to make it this time, we won’t make it. But if they believe we will, we can do it,'' he said.

Mr. Pascoe’s comments came at the conclusion of his two day visit in Cyprus, as part of UN efforts to help the ongoing discussions in Cyprus between teams of experts to prepare the ground for substantive negotiations between the two community leaders. The objective is to reach a settlement that will reunite the country, which has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

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