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UNSG Special Advisor Alexander Downer Says Latest Meeting was Productive
2008-10-16 13:17:19

Nicosia, Oct 13 – In statements after the meeting, UNSG Special Advisor Alexander Downer, stated, “The leaders have asked me on their behalf to say a few words about the meeting they had this morning. The leaders had a productive meeting today. They had a one hour private meeting at the beginning and they have agreed to meet on a weekly basis. Their next meeting will take place next Monday, so just four days’ time. Working groups, representatives and experts will meet according to the instructions of the Leaders as needed. The leaders had further discussions today on the powers of the federal government, and they made progress. They also began discussions about the structure of the federal executive. Both sides made proposals and those discussions will continue next Monday.”

Mr. Downer continued, “I think it is, from my point of view, very important that the leaders be given plenty of space in order to continue their work, and it is important that all commentators in the media bear this in mind. This is a very important negotiation for the future of Cyprus and the leaders will need a lot of space in order to conduct those negotiations.”

Mr. Downer also said that the leaders began their meeting today with a private discussion that lasted about a quarter of an hour and that after the private discussion, the negotiations resumed on the issue of the executive, the presidency and the vice-presidency.

Invited to elaborate on a statement he made on Friday that progress has been noted, Mr. Downer said the two leaders ''are continuing clearly to discuss the approaches that they have to the executive, that is the presidency and the vice presidency and how that would work and obviously they come from this with different perspectives.''

Mr. Downer added that ''there is a process that is inevitable in all negotiations, a process that must take place to work through the differences and that is why the representatives and the experts are meeting during the week to help take that forward.''

''But first and foremost,'' he said, ''the leaders need to understand each other’s positions, to understand them very clear, they need to understand why they hold those positions and so naturally there is an articulation of all that has to take place.''

''That’s the necessary and usual part of the process of negotiations. So here we go to the representatives and the experts’ meeting during the week, under the auspices of the UN. I think that will be a useful way forward and then next Wednesday the leaders themselves will meet again,'' the Australian diplomat added.

Asked if the two leaders submitted any new proposals since their last meeting, Mr. Downer said ''they have been talking about the proposals that they submitted.''

Replying to other questions, he said that ''inevitably there is a growing understanding between the two sides and their positions and as time goes on of course the gaps are going to narrow.''

The two leaders, he noted, “have some common positions and they have of course been negotiated over the past few weeks and there is much that still needs to be negotiated.''

''This is an enormous issue, hasn’t been resolved for a very long time and as I said on Friday it is important to give the leaders space here. You can’t expect them suddenly to agree on everything on day 1 and the whole matter to be resolved after all these years. It’s going to take a lot of time and it’s going to be a difficult negotiation. There is no question of that. But what you have here is the political will and the political will is very good,'' Mr. Downer added.

On the UN role in the talks, he said the UN will do anything it can to be helpful. “We are doing all we can to be helpful and I hope we are being helpful,'' Mr. Downer concluded.

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