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Downer: No Artificial Deadlines in Cyprus Talks
2009-01-12 14:42:03

Nicosia, Jan 10 – UN Secretary General’s Special Advisor for Cyprus Alexander Downer has said that there is momentum on the Cyprus peace talks and called on the people to urge their leaders to continue to negotiate and come up with a good solution.

Mr. Downer, who is back on the island for the direct negotiations, which began last September in order to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem, said one does not want to be setting artificial deadlines which will create a crisis in their own.

He also stressed that a Cypriot solution should be put to the people and not one that is drawn by foreigners, adding that he is cautiously optimistic.

Speaking after a meeting with President of the Republic Demetris Christofias on Friday at the Presidential Palace, Mr. Downer said that he had the opportunity to talk to the President for an hour after being away on holiday.

Asked about the talks, Mr. Downer replied that from the UN point of view, “our approach to this whole process is that we should be as hopeful as we possibly can but I have always said that it is my ambition and it is the UN’s ambition that this process ultimately will be a Cypriot process and owned by all the people of Cyprus.”

Mr. Downer emphasized that this is “not a process that will be owned by the UN or the international community,” adding that it is very important that Cypriots feel that they own the negotiation and ultimately if there is to be an agreement that they own that agreement themselves.

The UN diplomat said that he is trying to be helpful, noting he had a meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and also met with officials as well and next week, apart from hosting the leaders’ meeting on Monday he will be having many meetings during the course of next week with leading figures in Cyprus.

Asked about possible UN arbitration in the future, Mr. Downer replied that this issue “is sort of like the tide, it rises and falls through the months.”

He said he has always maintained exactly the same position on that issue. “It’s not about arbitration and mediation, it’s about hoping, hoping as best as we possibly can, of course that is what the UN is trying to do here.”

The Australian former FM remarked that “in the end, you can never walk away from the importance of any solution being a Cypriot solution, I really have always thought that, I have took this job with that for me as one of the conditions of it.” In the end, he added, it has to be a Cypriot plan put to the people of Cyprus.

Mr. Downer said that although he has been criticized “I have always said that I am cautiously optimistic about the process. I mean there is no guarantee that we will succeed, but it certainly can succeed with the right will and the right determination.”

Asked if success will come before the end of the year, Mr. Downer replied “we will see, I have always said ‘you need to have momentum’, this process needs to have momentum, you do not want to be setting artificial deadlines which will create a crisis in their own. But you nevertheless need to make sure that there is a continuation of the momentum, and we have momentum in this process. This momentum is faster some weeks than other weeks,” he said, adding that the “people should have a degree of hope and they should urge on their leaders to continue to negotiate and come up with a good solution.”

During their last meeting on January 5th, the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus announced that they had reached agreement on the issue of harmonization and cooperation between the federal government and the constituent states.

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