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UN official cautiously optimistic that Cyprus agreement can be reached
2009-12-11 10:48:25

United Nations, Dec 10 – The UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer stated that he is ''cautiously optimistic'' that a settlement to the Cyprus problem can be reached in the framework of the on-going negotiations between President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, adding that the leaders of the two communities are making steady progress.

Following a meeting on Wednesday, December 9 between UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus Taye Brook Zerihoun and Mr. Downer, Mr. Downer said there has been growing convergence in the talks over the past couple of months, and that the international community is quite focused on efforts to reach a settlement.

Mr. Downer said ''we are cautiously optimistic that an agreement can be reached'' and noted that ''the two leaders are conducting the negotiations in good faith and with good will and they are working through the second reading, the second phase of the negotiations now.''

''It is obviously a very great challenge to reach agreement, there is no doubting that. If it was an easy thing to do, it would have been done long ago. The fact that this matter has not been solved for many years demonstrates the size of the challenge but nevertheless the leaders are working very professionally and with great commitment to finding solutions and they are making steady progress,'' he added.

On the issue of international involvement in the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, Mr. Downer said ''this is a matter for the Cypriots'' and that ''what the international community wants is for Cypriots to reunite and what is interesting is that for the time being the international community is quite focused on this issue.''

“[The international community has] an expectation and they have a hope that this time these two leaders, working in the spirit of good will that they are working in, will be able to reach an agreement,'' he added.

Mr. Downer said he met with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and some of her officials, and has a constant round of discussions within meetings with ministers of foreign affairs and other senior officials from countries that are interested in the issue.

Mr. Downer added that ''there is no doubt that the leaders are very committed to ensuring that the process continues into next year and in intense way, and we look forward into next January and into February to productive and intense meetings.''

Asked whether he knew when a substantial breakthrough could be expected, Mr. Downer said that ''when there is a substantial breakthrough, that is when it will be announced. That is a matter for the leaders, not a matter for us. The truth is that this is making steady progress,'' he said, noting that ''there are still significant outstanding issues.''

He also noted that ''they not only have to reach an agreement in a way that is satisfactory to the leaders, they have to reach an agreement ultimately which is acceptable to the people of Cyprus because they will be the ultimate arbiters on any agreement that they negotiate.''

Asked when he expected the second phase of negotiations to end, Mr. Downer replied again that ''this is a matter for the leaders.''

After the Security Council had held consultations on Wednesday, December 9, regarding the Cyprus problem, and heard briefings by Mr. Downer and the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative Taye Brooke Zerihoun, the Security Council announced that it will issue one resolution covering all aspects of the Cyprus issue (renewal of the mandate of UNFICYP and good offices mission), said Security Council President, Permanent Representative of Burkina Faso, Ambassador Michel Kafando.

“A draft resolution has been announced in this regard and the Security Council will work on it,” Kafando added.

Asked if he is planning to have a decision on Monday, December 11, about the reports of the Secretary General, the President of the Security Council said the Security Council proposes to take up a draft resolution on this matter. “And we believe that within 48 hours the draft resolution will reach the Security Council. Clearly the draft resolution will take into account all the aspects of the Secretary General’s report,” he said.

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