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UNSG’s Special Adviser on Cyprus Reacts to Ongoing Negotiations
2008-11-19 17:47:41

Nicosia, Nov 17 - UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer, speaking to reporters after Monday’s meeting in the UN controlled Nicosia airport, said that the meeting was held in a convivial and very positive atmosphere.

Asked if there were any discussions about deadlock resolving mechanisms, Mr. Downer said that the two leaders discussed exclusively the independent institutions, the offices of the Attorney General and the Auditor General and also some discussions about the Supreme Court.

As for the agenda of the next meeting, he mentioned that they have to see about it. ''But I think there will be some discussion next time about the deadlock resolving mechanisms''.

In his remarks after Thursday’s negotiations between President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer said the discussion was predominantly about the judiciary and that “they made good progress on the issue of the judiciary.” Asked about the process and the chapters that are under discussion and how they will progress, Mr. Downer said that they have been going through the process of governance and “have got a long way through that.”

The best way to describe the process, he said, “is the three baskets of approach, that there is agreement reached, where there is convergence, if you like, that is in the first basket, where there is some disagreement and that short term prospects for negotiating - particularly through meetings of the representatives - an agreement, we call that the second basket and the third basket areas where there remain significant disagreements and some of that will be discussed at a later stage in the whole negotiating process”.

Mr. Downer added, “they are working through the governance, power sharing chapter and identifying issues in the way that I have described.” However, he said that some issues will come back much later in the negotiations, even though they will move on as time goes on, “they will move on to the next chapter which is the property chapter.”

In response to whether or not there are plans to intensify the frequency of the leaders’ meetings perhaps to twice a week, Mr. Downer replied “no, I think the process is working quite well now, it’s working a lot better than it did initially, I think it is working quite well, of course there have been two meetings this week and there will be a meeting again on Monday, so we are going through a period of quite a lot of meetings but the meetings of the leaders, as envisaged, they will be more or less on a weekly basis, depending a bit on scheduling.”

Asked if there is a possibility for a solution to be reached before the elections in the Europarliament, Mr. Downer replied “I wouldn’t put a time on it. I think the important thing is that they maintain momentum. Obviously there will be easier issues and more difficult issues so the momentum won’t be straight line momentum but never the less they need to maintain momentum and not lose momentum. I think to set themselves artificial deadlines will make the process more difficult than easier.” He said that the “word I really want to stress here is momentum and the need to maintain the momentum through the process and I think there is momentum.”

In statements after Tuesday’s meeting, Mr. Downer said that the two leaders had a half an hour tête-à-tête meeting. Negotiations then continued for a couple of hours with a discussion on the issue of the legislature. Invited to say if there is any progress at all on governance, Mr. Downer said “Yes, they are making steady progress.” Asked how he defined progress, he said that “there are points of convergence in the discussion, and as they reach points of convergence they are able to move on and there are obviously points of divergence as well and it’s the points of divergence that constitute the debate.”

“As you can imagine for any country governance and power sharing is an enormously important issue. This is a central issue. So it is hardly surprising that it takes a while and I think it is very important to be understanding and tolerant with that frankly. An expectation that you can just suddenly solve all of these problems overnight after so many years is unrealistic,” Mr. Downer said.

As Mr. Downer noted, there have been discussions on the competencies of the federal government, there have been discussions on the executive, the role of the executive, how the executive is elected. “So you know they are working through difficult very important issues and they are making progress,” he continued.

“I have a fairly constant dialogue with the leaders, with the representatives, with other officials and during the periods when I am here in Cyprus,” Mr. Downer said, noting that he will be here through this week and through of next week and that process will continue. “Our job is to host these meetings, which we are doing, and to help in any way we usefully can and not to impose ourselves in an unhelpful and uncalled for way. That is a balance that I think we’ve struck quite successfully,” Mr. Downer noted.

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