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Cyprus: UN envoy says negotiations should start where they ended

27 April 2010 – Negotiations on the unification of Cyprus should continue where they left off, the United Nations envoy tasked with steering the talks said today as he made his first public remarks since the election of a new Turkish Cypriot leader.

“It’s our view that the process should continue on the basis of what has taken place so far,” Alexander Downer, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Cyprus, told journalists in New York.

“We don’t want to see the process start all over again when so much has been achieved over the past 18 or so months.”

In 2008, Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias committed themselves to working towards “a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality, as defined by relevant Security Council resolution.”

Following the last round of talks on 30 March, Mr. Talat and Mr. Christofias said important progress had been made in the areas of governance and power-sharing, European Union (EU) matters and the economy.

Last week, Mr. Talat was voted out of office, replaced by Dervis Eroglu.

Mr. Downer said today that both he and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have since spoken to Mr. Eroglu, as well as to Ahmet Davutoglu, the Foreign Minister of Turkey.

“We would like to see the progress continue from there, for the two leaders to build on the process made.”

Noting that the negotiations are hosted by the UN on its grounds, Mr. Downer emphasized that he hoped they would come to a successful conclusion before too long.

“This is not an indefinite process. This is a process that needs to move forward – at least to move forward with a good deal of momentum.”

While in New York, Mr. Downer has also met with senior UN political and peacekeeping officials and the head of key countries as well as other interested parties.

“A basis for these negotiations is to create a united federal system in Cyprus and I’ve been impressed with what has been achieved. It has taken time. But I’ve been impressed,” Mr. Downer said.

A UN peacekeeping mission, known as UNFICYP, has been in place on the island since 1964 after an outbreak of inter-communal violence.

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