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President: No Real Progress Achieved So Far at Cyprus Talks
2009-01-12 14:44:11

Nicosia, Jan 12 - President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias has said that despite intensive efforts, no real progress is to be reported regarding the ongoing direct negotiations, which began last September with a view to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem and reunify Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974.

“Unfortunately, despite our intensive efforts, after four months of work I do not have real progress to report. A number of secondary issues have been agreed but there remain, however, significant differences of approach to the issue of the powers and functions of the central Government, the system of governance as well as to the issue of foreign relations,” the Cypriot President said.

Receiving Monday the credentials of the new High Commissioner of the Republic of Malta Dr. Richard Vella Laurenti in Nicosia, President Christofias added “the insistence of the Turkish side to weaken the role of the federal Government and to endow the federated units with most of the functions and powers, usually reserved for federal Governments, create concerns and suspicions that the Turkish side is aiming for an entity approaching confederation rather than federation, as prescribed in relevant UN Security Council resolutions on Cyprus.”

He reaffirmed his commitment to achieve the vision of a reunified homeland for all Cypriots and to devote all his energies to make the negotiation process yield a successful outcome, but noted that “equal goodwill is also necessary from the Turkish side if progress is to be achieved.”

The Cypriot President said that no artificial deadlines and no arbitration by third parties should be present during the negotiations, and expressed confidence that “we, the Cypriots, myself and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, can achieve this for the sake of our people.”

Turkey, he stressed, “has the responsibility to actively work for the success of the process by encouraging Mr. Talat to adopt reasonable and constructive positions facilitating agreement.”

“Relevant UN Resolutions envision the evolution of the Cypriot state into a federation and Turkish positions in the negotiations must be within this framework of normal federal structures if we are to have any chance of an agreement this year,” he underlined.

Turkey, which has an occupation army in Cyprus, is a key player regarding the efforts to reach a solution, the Cypriot President said, adding that as a candidate country for accession to the EU, Turkey cannot continue to maintain military presence in Cyprus and refuse to fulfill its obligations.

“We know that the discussion on security will be a difficult one. But it is not helpful to insist on 'red lines' and to refuse discussion of the security concerns of both sides. With a spirit of goodwill and looking to the future we must reconsider how best to address the security needs of all sides,” he continued.

The Cypriot President expressed Cyprus’s gratitude for Malta’s support in efforts to reach a Cyprus solution.

Referring to bilateral relations, he said that the common accession of Malta and Cyprus to the European Union “has transformed us into the two southern pivots of the Union, and has created new opportunities and new challenges.”

“Presently, our role and our responsibilities with regard to peace, security and stability have assumed a new dimension,” he concluded.

Presenting his credentials, the new Maltese High Commissioner said that his country “exhorts and encourages both communities to reach an agreement on reunification on the basis of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal state deemed to be fair, just and acceptable to both communities.”

“Your Excellency has recently remarked that the primary aim of your governance is to achieve a solution the soonest possible, a solution which will put an end to the occupation and will reunite the territory, the people, the institutions, and the economy of the state. Malta looks forward to a solution that is acceptable to both sides,” he continued.

The new High Commissioner described the bilateral agreements signed by both countries over the years as “a proof of this dynamic relationship.”

He emphasized on a common problem both countries face, namely the illegal immigration, saying that the fruitful talks undertaken last year by Malta’s Minister of Justice and Home Affairs with the Cypriot Minister of Justice and Public Order and with the Minister of the Interior aimed at strengthening the collaboration between the two countries in the fields of security, immigration and justice.

The leaders of the two communities held their 15th meeting today in the framework of the direct negotiations.

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