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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 04-03-22
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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>
 Top UN envoy wants intensive Cyprus talks in Switzerland
Top UN envoy wants intensive Cyprus talks in Switzerland
Nicosia, Mar 22 (CNA) - The UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto said the UN-led direct negotiations he had contacted over the past month with the leaders of the two communities on the island did not produce the progress achieved so far on the technical committees' level.
He said that there has not as yet been the kind of ''give and take on the core issues for which we all had hoped for'', and stressed that the forthcoming process in Burgenstock, Switzerland, will have to be very intensive in order to reach a final agreement.
Speaking at a press conference on the eve of his departure for Burgenstock, where the talks will be enlarged with the participation of Greece and Turkey, de Soto said he still believed that an agreement is still possible but political will was needed by all involved.
In his opening remarks, de Soto said the talks on the island that were carried out for a little over a month concluded this morning and that, pursuant to the 13th February agreement achieved in New York, the parties are now moving to a concentrated effort to reach a final agreement.
He said that ''for this purpose they will be traveling to Burgenstock, near Lucerne, in Switzerland at the written invitation of the Secretary General.''
''Greece and Turkey will also be at hand to lend their collaboration. The effort will continue in Burgenstock from 24 March,'' he said.
De Soto said the Greek Cypriot side would be represented by President Tassos Papadopoulos as confirmed by him in writing, while Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has informed the Secretary General in writing that Mehmet Ali Talat and Serdar Denktash will ''together be fully authorised to negotiate on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot side.''
He also said the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Greece and Turkey, Petros Molyviatis and Abdullah Gul respectively, will be joining the effort on the 24th of March. De Soto will be hosting the conference until UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrives in Switzerland around the same time the Prime Ministers of Greece and Turkey on the 28th.
''On the positive side of the ledger, an enormous amount of work has been done at a technical level,'' he said and commended the work of the technical committee members on both sides.
He said that this morning, during the last meeting in the framework of the direct talks, the leaders and he ''took stock of this work.''
The flag and anthem committee, composed of an equal number of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, he said, unanimously agreed on recommendations. The leaders have accepted these recommendations.
''The laws committee is well advanced in its work. Fifteen draft laws have already been completed by the committees, and a further 87 drafts are ready to be completed in the next few days in committees, that is 102 overall,'' de Soto remarked.
A number of other laws are under consideration, he said, noting ''the work of the laws committee will continue with many groups meeting in parallel and their final output will ultimately be placed before the two sides for their consideration in Burgenstock, including on any issues that may still be outstanding.''
The treaties committee is finalising its technical work today and tomorrow, the UN diplomat said, adding, ''Experts are seeking to reach an agreement on a bridging proposal of the UN. Their output, including any outstanding issues, will be referred to the two sides in Burgenstock.''
The technical committee on economic and financial aspects of implementation is also finalising a lot of its work today, preparing recommendations to be presented in Burgenstock for the consideration of the two sides.
In addition, the committee will continue to work on plans of action for the implementation of a settlement, ''that is aspects that don't need to go into the plan itself'', de Soto said.
Furthermore, ''progress has been made in technical committees to ensure that the federal government is in place from the first day, properly staffed and properly accommodated,'' he said.
De Soto said ''while there has been quite a bit of progress at the technical level, I should say that this has not been matched in the leaders' meetings.''
''There have been glimmers, here and there, and the differences have narrowed, I believe, on some points. A lot more is happening than meets the eye. But there has not as yet been the kind of give and take on the core issues for which we had all hoped,'' he added.
He went on to say ''this means that the process in Burgenstock will have to be very intensive in order to try to reach final agreement and all involved will have to show the necessary political will to reach a final settlement.''
The UN diplomat said he believed an agreement to be possible. ''It is very clear that each side is ready for the very important days ahead. Everyone accepts that this is the end game. Both sides remain fully committed to holding referenda in late April as they agreed on 13 February. So while I wish that more progress had already been made here in Cyprus, I am quietly hopeful for the days ahead,'' he added.
Asked whether Talat and Denktash will be able to take decisions or wait to return to Cyprus and consult with Rauf Denktash, de Soto said the two were ''fully authorised to negotiate.''
''They don't need any further authorisation. They can reach decisions as I understand it at Burgenstock,'' he said.
Invited to clarify what he meant with his statement about ''end game'', de Soto said, ''We are approaching the end of the road, that the decision moment has arrived. We have come to that point.''
He said he did not want to go into the reasons why give and take has not taken place. ''I wish it had but we are reaching the point where it has to take place,'' he noted.
On another point, he said the Switzerland talks would last until the end of the month.
De Soto said the decision on whether there will be a yes or no during the April 20 referenda ''is one that has to be taken by the people.''
''Obviously the possibility of saying no exists, otherwise it wouldn't be a very democratic referendum for the people to chose,'' he said, adding ''it really has to be done in one shot, as far as I know.''
On the issue of derogations from the acquis communautaire, de Soto said ''it is true that a concern has been raised very strongly and it has been done so publicly indeed about the legal security of the agreements to be reached.''
''This is a matter under discussion and of course it does not just involve the UN,'' he pointed out.
Asked about the format of the talks in Burgenstock, de Soto said there are a number of items that will continue at the talks in Switzerland. Ideally, he said, this could be done in direct meetings between the two leaders or combine that and involve Greece and Turkey in the effort.
De Soto said there was no fixed procedure but he expected a combination of meetings with all those present, direct meetings between the Cypriot parties, bilateral meetings between the participants and shuttling of the UN. ''A combination of all the above,'' he said.
Answering another question, de Soto said he did ''not believe that pressure has been exerted.''
''What we have done, at least on the part of the UN, is throughout this process that began over four years ago, is to urge the parties, including Mr. Denktash, to accept that there is an opportunity and that this opportunity, let's say, ends at a certain point,'' he explained.
De Soto said the UN still think it is possible, and a much greater realisation that there is a bit of a deadline in order to complete the work as presently conceived. ''I certainly do not agree that this is an attempt to force anything down anybody's throat at this point,'' he added.
Asked about Denktash's absence from the talks, de Soto said he would have certainly preferred for Denktash to be in Burgenstock and it might not be late for him to change his mind, adding however that he did not believe there would be an interruption in the process or the representation of the Turkish Cypriot side.
Invited to comment on statement by Turkey's Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gul that many gaps would be left for the Secretary General to fill in, de Soto said he hoped not. ''In any case, the Secretary General will, when and if it comes to that, be surrounded by all the participants and he hopes to be in close consultation with them, if he has to carry out this duty,'' de Soto said.
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