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UNSG Special Adviser Alexander Downer Says Progress Being Made in Cyprus Talks
2009-04-13 08:47:03

Nicosia, Apr 10 – More has been agreed and written down between the two parties in Cyprus than at any time since 1974, UN Secretary General's Special Adviser for Cyprus Alexander Downer has said.

Speaking in Nicosia Friday at the end of the latest round of talks between President Christofias and Mr. Talat, in the United Nations Protected Area of Nicosia, Mr. Downer said “there is very strong support for the process in the international community, along with high expectations for success.” He added that it was crucial “the good momentum in the negotiations be maintained.”

He also announced a number of Confidence Building Measures the two leaders agreed on to be immediately implemented. Mr. Downer said that the first measure was the crossing of ambulances in emergency cases that will come in effect from next week.

He announced that “the committee on communications and liaison for crime and criminal matters will come into force. The Advisory Board has been established on the preservation of cultural heritage. And the project which is funded by UNDP to deal with water-saving measures is proceeding as well.”

Mr. Downer pointed out, “a number of the confidence-building measures have not just been agreed on but it has been agreed that they will proceed to implement those particular confidence-building measures.”

Speaking after Friday’s meeting Mr. Downer said that “the two leaders had a long tête-à-tête meeting. During that their representatives and officials discussed further discussions on some technical aspects of the EU issue and it was then when the leaders took the opportunity to go for a walk.”

Answering a question Mr. Downer said that there are no fixed timelines regarding the direct negotiations. “Naturally enough, it is important that this process has appropriate momentum and that it moves forward. We have now completed, in what is sometimes called the first reading, the EU chapter, and that has been a very good discussion. The economy is going to be the next issue to be discussed and there are two more chapters after that. There is, of course, the issue of territory and the issue of security.”

Referring to the procedure to be followed in the near future, he said that “when the leaders have reached the end of the first reading, there will be sort of a second round process and that will inevitably move towards a third round process; a give-and-take process. But there will be give-and-take all the way through”.

He clarified that “there has actually been through the first round (give-and-take process), including during the course of today. So there has been a lot of that. So it’s important not to oversimplify the process, but it is also important not to impose any timelines on it.”

Mr. Downer added that “it is crucial that the momentum be maintained and I think there is good momentum. It is important to remember this: more has been agreed and written down – agreed between the two parties and written down -- than at any time since 1974. So, progress is gradually been made.”

He went on to say that “this is a very big negotiation. A longstanding issue and inevitably it’s going to be pretty difficult. We have had a large number of meetings of the leaders. That’s good. They have made real progress, they have put more on paper now of an agreed nature than at any time since 1974. Of course, you know the Annan Plan had a lot of words in it but it wasn’t agreed in the sense that this is agreed material between the two leaders and that, I think, is pretty encouraging.”

Furthermore, he pointed out that there is an expectation from the international community “that this time the two leaders can finally reach agreement. There is expectation and there is very strong support for this process coming from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and, as you have seen, from people like the new President of the United States, President Obama, who has expressed his strong support for the process, and right across the board from Russia and China and so on”.

All of that is very encouraging, but it’s not just a question of support: it's a question of expectation and there is an expectation that this process can be successful, UN official concluded.

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