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Community leaders discuss bridging proposals on power sharing
2009-09-11 10:05:29

Nicosia, Sep 10 – The President of the Republic of Cyprus, Demetris Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat, began the second phase of the UN-led direct negotiations September 10, by discussing bridging proposals in relation to the executive power in case of a solution to the Cyprus problem.

In a statement following the meeting, Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General Alexander Downer said that the leaders discussed bridging proposals in relation to the election of the President and Vice-President of the United Republic.

“They had positions which they articulated on the question of the election of the executive in the first round. They had different positions. They have come back here with new bridging proposals and they initially presented those bridging proposals today,” Mr. Downer told reporters.

The discussions on the new bridging proposals will continue next Thursday, September 17.

The two leaders also discussed the cancellation of a pilgrimage by Greek Cypriots to the Turkish occupied areas via the Limnitis checkpoint, in a tête-à-tête session at the beginning of the meeting.

A pilgrimage from the village of Pyrgos in the Paphos district to the church of Saint Mamas in the Turkish occupied area of Morphou, via the Limnitis checkpoint, was called off on September 2, due to delays caused by the Turkish Cypriot side.

A total of 650 Greek Cypriot pilgrims on 27 coaches were set to cross over to the Turkish occupied areas. The so-called police officers of the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime boarded the first two coaches to arrive at the checkpoint, on the northwest, in order to check the passengers' identity cards. Eleven media representatives were requested to leave and, after a 90-minute delay, the pilgrims turned back in a gesture of protest. The second group of pilgrims to arrive at the checkpoint by bus was told by the occupation regime that it was already too late for the pilgrimage to Saint Mamas.

The unnecessary and provocative cancellation of the scheduled pilgrimage of Greek Cypriots to the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, led to the postponement of that week’s scheduled meeting between President Christofias and Mehmet Ali Talat. In statements made September 4, the Government’s Spokesman expressed the dissatisfaction of the government of the Republic of Cyprus over the fact that the Turkish Cypriot side had breached the agreement reached regarding the pilgrimage via the Limnitis checkpoint.

The UN envoy said that President Christofias and Mr. Talat agreed -- having discussed the issue of Limnitis during their meeting on September 10 -- that they would leave it behind them and move on into the second reading of the direct negotiations.

The UN does not want to be too prescriptive about the process, he noted. “The UN wants to see the leaders work it through in their own way and are there only to help,” Mr. Downer said. “They are the principal parties to the negotiations and so they have to take the negotiations forward in ways that they feel comfortable with. We want the negotiations to keep going,” he added.

Mr. Downer stated that the UN hopes the two leaders will achieve a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality and a single international personality, consistent with United Nations Security Council resolutions.

“We help the leaders as they want us to help them to see that become a reality, but they -- in terms of the details -- have to carry the process forward and we encourage them to do that. And that is what they are doing, so we are pleased with the way it’s progressing,” he told reporters.

When asked about press reports that the UN wished to put some ideas on the table for the two leaders, Mr. Downer answered that “it's a free world; anybody on earth is entitled to have an idea.”

“The important thing here to understand is that these two leaders have to embrace any ideas for ideas to become any reality, so I wouldn’t over-interpret this question of ideas,” he explained.

After Thursday’s meeting the UN envoy, together with the leaders of the two communities, attended a reception for Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot artists who presented their work displayed at UN Good Offices meeting rooms, including rooms where the leaders meet.

Both leaders commended the artists, saying that their joint work presents them with a challenge which they have to meet as it concerns relations between the two communities.

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