"Now is the moment" for successful reunification talks on Cyprus: UN chief

16:53, December 04, 2010      

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In a report released here Friday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders to seize the moment with regards to reunification for fear that otherwise a "critical window of opportunity" may close.

Ban's report advised that Greek Cyrpiot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu draft a practical plan to achieve peaceful reunification by January 2011, when the two leaders will meet with Ban again.

"Now is the moment to dedicate all efforts to bringing these negotiations to a successful conclusion," wrote Ban. "Having stated their commitment to the shared goal of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, the leaders of Cyprus are expected to make good on their commitment to that outcome."

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when the Turkish military intervened and occupied the island's north following a coup by a group of Greek officers.

Though talks to agree on a sustainable solution for the Cyrpus issue have been happening incrementally for decades, the most recent talks began in March 2008 and are still continuing.

"The process so far has been characterized by periods of sluggish activity, together with some flashes of dynamicism ahead of important events," Ban wrote.

According to Ban's report, one of the main reasons that the talks have not been as productive as hoped is because of the ongoing inability of two sides to agree on issues of property rights.

Greek Cypriots would like to have the choice of reinstatement of the property they own in the Turkish section of Cyprus. Turkish Cypriots counter that the Greek Cypriots own so much land in the Turkish area that reinstatement would make bizonal division of the island impossible.

In the report, Ban expressed concern that an upcoming election cycle will ruin momentum towards a reunification agreement if the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders wait too long to act. This prompted the secretary-general to ask for a practical plan from the leaders by January that tackles major issues in the talks.

"It is my concern that the political environment in the second quarter of 2011 will likely not be conducive to constructive negotiations," Ban wrote, pointing to the difficulty of holding constructive talks around election times in Turkey and the south of Cyrpus.

"In any society, intense political moments such as elections are rarely a time for compromises or flexibility," he added.

Source: Xinhua


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