UN urges for quick solution to Cyprus problem

20:39, May 26, 2010      

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The United Nations on Wednesday called on the two rival communities in Cyprus to seize the opportunity and work out a mutually acceptable solution "in the coming months."

"The international community is committed to continuing its support for this Cypriot-led (peace) process," top UN envoy Alexander Downer read out a statement by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

"I truly believe that you can reach an agreement in the coming months," said the statement.

Downer relayed Ban's message to Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias and the newly elected Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, when the two held their first formal meeting in the UN-controlled buffer zone.

The UN chief said in the statement that the peace process is at an important point.

"A settlement is within your grasp and this opportunity must be seized, as time is not on your side," Ban underlined.

The two leaders on Wednesday resumed peace talks interrupted at the end of March due to an election in northern Cyprus, which is under Turkish Cypriot control.

In the election, Eroglu, a right-wing nationalist who has for decades advocated an independent Turkish Cypriot state having loose ties with the internationally recognized Cyprus Republic, defeated moderate Mehmet Alit Talat, who had launched together with Christofias in the summer of 2008 the peace talks aimed at reunifying the Mediterranean island.

In more than 70 meetings, the two sides have achieved some progress in governance and power-sharing within the framework of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, but failed to make any breakthrough on key issues such as property, security guarantees and those concerning settlers from mainland Turkey.

During the less-than-two-hour meeting on Wednesday, Christofias and Eroglu picked up the property issue and the two leaders "confirmed existing convergences," according to Downer, who has overseen the negotiations.

Ban has also urged the two leaders to show vision, statesmanship and courage when they come to the give-and-take stage.

The UN chief pointed out in his message that the two leaders must convince not only their own community of the value of a settlement, but also the other community of their good faith during the negotiations for a solution, which he believes "clearly benefits both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots."

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey militarily intervened and occupied the north of the island following a coup by a group of Greek officers.

In 1983, the Turkish Cypriot authorities declared a breakaway state, setting up the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," which is recognized only by Turkey.

For several decades, the UN has continuously worked to persuade the two communities to find a viable solution to the long-standing Cyprus issue.

Source: Xinhua


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