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Downer Cautiously Optimistic on Cyprus Process
2009-05-08 10:42:09

United Nations, May 1 (CNA) – UN Secretary-General Special Adviser Alexander Downer has stressed that he is cautiously optimistic about the perspective for a solution of the Cyprus problem.

Speaking to the press after briefing the UN Security Council on the Cyprus question, Mr. Downer said “I think it’s appropriate as the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser that from time to time I talk to the Security Council, and the Security Council members are able to discuss the issue of Cyprus.”

“Τhis is obviously a very difficult negotiation, it’s a long standing issue, there shouldn't be any expectation that is a simple matter to solve, otherwise it would have been solved long ago,” he added.

He noted that “I wouldn't be doing this job if I didn't think that the investments of my time and energy and the UN’s time and energy was useful and I think it’s fair to say as I’ve said throughout this process that I’m cautiously optimistic, but I don’t underestimate the difficulties and the challenges that are faced.”

He underlined that “there is no doubt that the international community has expectations that on this occasion the leaders will take a unique opportunity, two leaders committed to the process, committed to the success of the negotiation, that they will take this unique opportunity and be able to negotiate an agreement on these very complex issues.”

Asked about the Turkish stance on the peace process, he said that “there are a lot of Turkish troops in Cyprus as is well known Turkey is clearly very focused on this issue.”

He added that “there is no doubt from my discussions with the Turkish leadership from the President and the Prime Minister downwards that they are committed to supporting a settlement to the Cyprus problem.”

“Of course different parties have different positions otherwise this would have been settled long ago. But there is no doubt in my mind that Turkey wants to see the matter settled and I appreciate the focus they have on the issue,” he said.

Asked whether there will be any timetables for a settlement, he said that “there needs to be momentum. In this process they need to keep the negotiations going. As of April of 2009 the leaders had met since the negotiations formally began on September 3rd, 26 times.

“So a lot of energy is being put into this process, that momentum needs to be maintained, this isn’t the process that can go on forever. If it drags out for too long it would drag out into failure,” he pointed out.

Asked what the expectations of the international community are, he said that “they need to negotiate and there is an expectation on the part of the international community that they will find compromises”.

“It’s not good enough for somebody to say I support a solution to the Cyprus problem but it’s got to be a win and take all, I’m not prepared to compromise with anyone else. That is simply not acceptable. You’ll never have a solution with such sort of attitude,” he added.

He stressed that “people have to accept that there are needs to be compromise, and compromise all around, on both sides there has to be compromise on the issues that are important to them in order to reunify Cyprus.”

Moreover, he said that “it’s a grand vision to reunify Cyprus and there is a framework agreed by the United Nations Security Council over a long period of time of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality in a single international personality, so there is a framework there and the leaders are negotiating within that framework and to achieve an outcome can only be done if there is an appropriate degree of compromise and good will and a desire to settle the matter.”

He, also, noted that “the international community is focused on the issue of Cyprus, there are many other issues for the world to worry about but they are focused on the issue of Cyprus and they expect the goodwill that the latest have shown, whatever difficulties may arise for them on the way through, the goodwill to be maintained and the spirit of compromise to continue to be a characteristic of the negotiations.”

Asked what he is hoping for the Security Council, he said that “the members have agreed to a presidential statement. From my perspective I think that’s helpful because that what that underlines to people in Cyprus is that the international community is focused on the issue, they are probably be pleased about that.”

He continued, “there is an expectation this time given the unique opportunity the confluence of leaders who are good friends and have a long history together. And despite the fact that they get better from time to time by the political storms that exist in every country, I think there is an expectation that they’re going to make it this time.”

Asked what is the status of talks as related on issues of power sharing and property compensation, he said that “Power sharing and governance have been discussed by the leaders over quite some weeks. There are many areas of agreement.”

He noted that “there are still one or two outstanding areas but they’ve made very good progress on power sharing and governance. On property, there’s been some good agreement but this is nevertheless, property is a very difficult issue for all sorts of reasons.”

As he said “there is a European Court of Justice judgment at the moment which reminds people that property is a difficult issue and it should remind everybody that there is real urgency in reaching an agreement on the Cyprus question including on property. The sooner that can be done the better,” he added.

Asked if he intends to bring new ideas on the table to narrow the gap, he said that he would do everything he could to help, noting that “If I behave in a way that is unhelpful and that creates difficulties for one side then that’s not being helpful.”

Asked whether Mr. Talat will come with a conclusion to the Cyprus problem, he replied: “Well that you’re just asking me to make predictions. The only prediction I make is I’m cautiously optimistic that this process can succeed.”

He concluded by saying that “there is no agreed timeline but there is a recognition that it needs to be done sooner rather than later. And this window of opportunity won’t remain opened forever.”

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