|Wednesday, 22 May 2013|
Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 09-12-03
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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>
 UN SECRETARY GENERAL - REPORT - CYPRUS QUESTIONUN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that parties in Cyprus are making solid progress in direct talks aiming to solve the problem of the island, adding that he is cautiously optimistic that a solution can be achieved.
In his report on his mission of good offices in Cyprus issued on Thursday, covering the period from 10 May to November 25, 2009, Ban noted that differences remain and it is clear that much work needs to be done in order to achieve full convergence.
Implementing in practice the achieved objective of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality in a united Cyprus in which the concerns of both parties are taken into account and that is, at the same time, functional and stable, is a considerable challenge. It is ambitious but it is achievable, he added.
Ban said he was encouraged by the commitment, courage and determination shown by the two leaders despite the considerable challenges posed by the negotiations and the ongoing domestic criticism in the north and the south directed at the leaders and the process and commended them for the progress achieved to date in the talks.
Furthermore he urged both leaders to maintain their good personal and working relationship, ``which is vital for the success of the talks, and urged other concerned parties to do their utmost to support them and the negotiation process``.
As negotiations have moved into their second phase, the momentum needs to be maintained or even accelerated. The coming weeks and months will be decisive, as important decisions will have to be made. Given that the leaders of the two communities are committed to finding a solution to the Cyprus problem, this is a unique opportunity that must be seized by both sides, Ban said.
He noted that it is incumbent upon both leaders to meet the hopes and expectations of their people for a comprehensive and sustainable solution to the Cyprus problem within a reasonable time frame, noting that they should be accorded the political space to do so.
Ban reaffirm the organizations steadfast commitment to and support for the peace process under the leadership of my Special Adviser, and underlined that he stands ready to personally assist and facilitate the negotiations if requested to do so by the parties. At the same time he noted that the negotiations are Cypriot-led and the pace at which the negotiations proceed will be determined by the two sides alone.
As he noted, there have been more than 50 meetings between the leaders since the current process began, and the meetings have been constructive. It is noteworthy that the gaps between the sides have narrowed on a number of important issues, he noted.
Ban said it is encouraging to note that the leaders are focusing on the areas of divergence in the current round in order to narrow the gaps between their positions, and that they are actively producing bridging proposals.
Those proposals have focused on the more controversial issues and have helped to bring the two positions closer together. Ultimately, the two sides must continue to demonstrate flexibility so as to accommodate each others concerns, as no solution can be perfect for either side. At the same time, the process of negotiation should not be seen as a zero-sum game, since both sides will gain in a united Cyprus, he stressed.
As he noted, his overall assessment is that ``the parties are making solid progress, and I am cautiously optimistic that a solution can be achieved. On the basis of what has been accomplished so far, the international community expects the talks to continue to make substantial progress in a timely fashion.``
``There is a significant body of work upon which to draw, as there are already a number of joint papers that reflect their positions and that have served as the basis for discussions in the second phase. There is also a clear desire on the part of both sides to reach a settlement, as they have both asserted that the status quo is unacceptable. In addition, there is a general acknowledgement that the benefits of a solution for both sides would be huge, whereas the cost of failure could be high,`` Ban added.
The UNSG said that in the first phase of the talks considerable convergence was achieved in the areas of governance and power-sharing, the economy and EU matters, with more limited progress being made with regard to property, territory and security.
As regards the second round of talks, he said that in the area of governance progress has been achieved on several aspects. This chapter is considered to be among the most pivotal, because the question of how power will be shared between the communities is at the heart of the debate in all the chapters,`` he added.
Since the second phase began, five meetings between the leaders have been devoted to discussions related to governance and power sharing issues. Both sides have introduced bridging proposals, but convergence has yet to be achieved. The sides have also established an expert group on treaties, which has begun to discuss the process whereby they will jointly decide which treaties will be applicable to a united Cyprus, Ban said.
He noted that in late October, the leaders returned to the discussion of the property issue, and they have since held five meetings on that subject. They have also tasked their representatives with preparing the groundwork for fuller discussions on the issue. To date, the representatives have held five meetings to move forward on the issue of property.
As regards confidence-building measures, he said that the four technical committees that are still functioning are meeting regularly and have made steady progress. He also referred to agreement to open a seventh crossing point between the communities and through the buffer zone to the north-west of the island at Limnitis.
I am encouraged by the commitment, courage and determination shown by the two leaders despite the considerable challenges posed by the negotiations and the ongoing domestic criticism in the north and the south directed at the leaders and the process. It is important that both parties create a favourable environment and conditions conducive to the continued progress of the talks. In this regard, active participation and engagement on the part of civil society in the effort to achieve a solution and in its implementation will be crucial, Ban said.
As he noted the parties will have to be prepared to explain to the people in the clearest terms the benefits of a solution so that they can make an informed decision regarding the peace agreement.
Ban also said it is noteworthy that, after the agreement was reached on nearly two dozen confidence-building measures during the preparatory phase of the talks, the parties made little progress in their implementation of some of those measures during the reporting period and urged the parties to make greater efforts to implement the confidence-building measures in order to strengthen intercommunal relations and to build greater public support within the communities for the process.
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September 2008 with a view to solve the problem of Cyprus, divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of the islands territory.
 CYPRUS PRESIDENT - TALKSPresident of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias has stressed that Cyprus enjoys all the rights, which every EU member state has within the Union.
The President was speaking ahead of next weeks assessment of Turkeys EU accession progress by the December European Council.
In statements Thursday on his return to the Presidential Palace after the conclusion of his meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, President Christofias said he held a friendly discussion with Talat on the issue of governance, asylum, aliens, citizenship and immigration. During the next meeting, he said, they will discuss economy.
 HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES - LISBON TREATYHouse President Marios Garoyian has said that the House of Representatives will make every effort to respond successfully to its new role as this is prescribed by the Lisbon Treaty.
Addressing on Thursday the House plenary, Garoyian said that the Treaty may not reflect to the highest level the will and the expectations of all of us, but it constitutes a substantive step towards the improvement of the European construction.
The Lisbon Treaty is the result of a long and painful effort to modernize the European Union, he said, adding that the Treaty marks a new era for the European family and constitutes a natural result of a continuously evolving EU, he added.
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