UN Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer: No timelines set for a Cyprus settlement
Nicosia, July 14 (CNA) – UN Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer has said the UN has not set timelines for a solution to the Cyprus issue and stressed that it will be a major mistake for the UN to present a blueprint as it did in 2004 and urge the people on both sides of the divide to vote for it.
In his remarks after meeting with President of the Democratic Party Marios Garoyian, Downer said it is important for Garoyian and the UN to keep in touch with the political leaders in Cyprus and to hear their perspectives and points of view.
When asked if he shares the view expressed by Turkish President Abdullah Gul that negotiations should be concluded by the end of the year, Downer replied, “what we have always said at the UN is that there shouldn’t be a specific timetable, but the important thing is for there to be momentum in the process, and I think there is momentum… the process is moving ahead steadily and it will conclude when the leaders finally reach an agreement. I have no idea what day that will be, or what month that will be, or when that will be, and that’s something that they themselves have to resolve between them”, he remarked.
The UN, he added, “is certainly not laying down a timeline as I have said all along…as far as the UN is concerned, what we want to see is a continuation of the momentum and that we have been seeing so far”.
Downer pointed out the progression with the agreement on Limnitis, “that has been a very positive development in recent times and I think that improved the atmosphere in the negotiations. I remain cautiously optimistic about this process that needs to maintain a momentum and that is happening”.
Asked about the security issue, he noted that the two leaders are talking specifically about security and added: “The impression I get from those discussions is that they certainly have their own points of view on these things. They are Cypriots and this is Cyprus. The UN [continues] to say that ultimately the decisions on Cyprus must be made by the people who live here, by the Cypriots, they will be the ultimate determinants of their own destiny, Cypriot people.”
When asked if the UN will put any ideas on the table about the issue of guarantees, Downer said that at this time the UN has not put forth any ideas on the matter. “The positions of the leaders are pretty well understood: Turkish Cypriots favor the continuation of the Treaty of Guarantee, the Greek Cypriots want to see the end of the Treaty of Guarantee”, he remarked.
Downer said he wanted to take this opportunity to dispel an idea that some people have promoted and that is the UN wants to repeat what it did in 2004: “I think that would be a major mistake for the UN to try to do again what it did in 2004…I don’t think the UN should present a blueprint to Cyprus and should say ‘vote for that’. I don’t think that’s the right way to go. I think the leaders need to negotiate between themselves, facilitated by the UN, to negotiate an agreement that they are comfortable with, not have the UN impose anything upon them. It is my view that an agreement imposed from the outside is not likely to be accepted by the Cypriot people. And it wasn’t in 2004. And it would be a mistake to repeat what happened in 2004. I am not here with a blueprint… You have to determine your future, not have the UN determine your future for you. And it is very important that people understand that”, he stressed.
When asked if the process has matured enough for the leaders to begin a process of give and take in October, Downer said:
“They have been nearly through all the chapters now, they are talking about the security issue, when they finish talking about that they will start looking at some areas where there are still some disagreements and will need to have another look at those and think about how they will move forward in those areas. I think the reason why people are latching onto October is because the leaders have agreed on the actual dates of the meetings up until the 9th of October. But there will be more meetings, and they will work out more dates beyond that”, he said.
Garoyian said they had a substantive discussion, during which he outlined his views that the key to a Cyprus solution lies in Ankara. “If Turkey takes the political decision to solve the Cyprus problem on the basis of a functional solution and EU principles, then one might expect a solution,” he added.