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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 10-03-04

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    UN Secretary-General`s Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer has described as very important the fact that Greece and Turkey have a very positive attitude towards direct negotiations aimed at solving the Cyprus problem, expressing hope that negotiations will succeed.

    Downer was speaking after a meeting between the President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, in the framework of the ongoing direct negotiations on the Cyprus problem that began in September 2008.

    In statements to the media, Downer said that the leaders met for a very big part of the day in tete-a-tete session, but there was also substantial discussion about the economy, the economic chapter, and various aspects of that.

    He said that the two leaders` rpresentatives are likely to meet again in the latter part of next week, adding that the next leaders meeting is going to be on the 16th of March.

    At that meeting, he continued, there will be some discussion about the economy, but they ll also be discussing at that meeting European Union matters.

    Asked whether the leaders will be concluding the economy chapter during the next meeting and if there was progress on the economy chapter, Downer said that representatives of the two leaders had a long discussion on this chapter during their meeting on Wednesday, noting that many of those issues were canvassed and worked on.

    Some work has been done over night and those issues considered again today. A little bit more work will be done and a review of some of that work will take place, no doubt, when the leaders get together the next time, if not at the Representatives meeting, which will probably be, its not certain yet, will probably be next Thursday, he added.

    He went on to say that in all of these chapters theres been, as you know, an ongoing process; nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. So, theres a lot of back and forth about it all.

    Theyve been working well through it. Because you know in the economy chapter there are fairly technical issues. Not hearts and minds stuff. Its pretty technical stuff, he said.

    Asked to comment what Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview with Greek Cypriot journalists, Downer said that to the best of my recollection, it was the first time the Prime Minister of Turkey has been so specific and so clear about Turkeys support for a bizonal, bicommunal federation, with political equality and a single international personality,

    Its important, not just Mr Talat says that, or Mr Davutoglu as the Foreign Minister of Turkey, whoever it may be. But for the Prime Minister of Turkey to say that has obviously been a very significant statement, a very significant interview that hes done, including with Greek Cypriot journalists, not just with Turkish Cypriot journalists, he noted.

    He added that now, what we at the United Nations want to do is see a progressive improvement in the atmosphere amongst all of the parties obviously, in particular, the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, but, as you know, Mr Talat and Mr Christofias have a very long-standing and a good personal relationship, thats helpful.

    In addition to that, its very important that Greece and Turkey have a very positive attitude towards what is going on here in these negotiations, he pointed out.

    Referring to his last week visit to Greece where he met with Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and officials of the Foreign Ministry, he said that that there is no doubt in my mind that Greece has a very great deal of good will towards the negotiations here, and I hope that those negotiations can succeed.

    That, by the way, should give Turkish Cypriots some comfort. Not just Greek Cypriots, but Turkish Cypriots, he said and stressed that on the other hand, its very good to see that the Turkish Government, in the form of the Prime Minister of Turkey, is making the sorts of positive remarks that the Prime Minister has made to the media.

    He noted that if not just the parties here in Cyprus, but people in Turkey and Greece, say positive things about the negotiation and provide support for the process of the negotiation, that obviously is helpful to the whole process.

    I, of course, dont just mean those countries, [but also when] people like my own boss, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the President of the European Commission, and other leaders around the world say positive things and encouraging things about the process, it demonstrates the strong degree of support around the world for success in these negotiations, he said.

    Invited to say if he is more or less optimistic since the negotiations started, he replied: My position has not changed. The day I change my position is the day you run that as the lead story in your news. But thats not the lead story to run today. I havent changed my position.

    Asked if there are any thoughts of preparing a joint statement before the so-called elections in the occupied area saying that were close to an agreement, Downer said that The leaders are likely to have. I cannot swear to this.

    They can, of course, always change their minds or come up with new ideas. But at this stage -- today is the 4th of March -- it is a fair bit away.

    As he said their expectation at the moment is for their meeting on the 30th of March to be the last one before the elections take place in the north, the first round of which are on the 18th of April. They will work out at the end of that process what they want to say. So, well just have to wait and see, he concluded.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

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