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Cyprus

UNSC supports efforts to get a joint declaration

By Stefanos Evripidou and George Psyllides

THE United Nations Security Council has expressed support for the process in Cyprus and for reaching a deal on a joint declaration as soon as possible to pave the way for substantive reunification talks.

The SC was briefed on Wednesday by the UN special representative Lisa Buttenheim and special advisor Alexander Downer, who took part through teleconferencing as he was unable to make it to New York because of bad weather.

Following the two-hour briefing, the Jordanian chairman said, “Council members expressed their support for the political process in Cyprus and for reaching an agreement as soon as possible on a joint statement between the two sides which would lead to re-launching meaningful and effective negotiations.”

“Council members expressed broad support for the good offices exercise by the Secretary General in the process and for the mission of Mr. Downer. Moreover, there was broad support for the renewal of UNFICYP`s mandate for an additional six months.”

The two sides have been bogged down over the text of a joint communiqué that would lead to the start of substantive talks.

Turkish Cypriot media reported on Wednesday that Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday asking him to convince President Nicos Anastasiades either to accept the last Turkish Cypriot draft text on a joint communiqué or start talks without preconditions.

He reportedly told Ban that the Turkish Cypriot draft proposal submitted on December 14 had been put together with the help of the UN, Turkey and others in a spirit of reconciliation to address Greek Cypriot concerns.

He expressed surprise and disappointment that Anastasiades responded by sending a new draft text, ignoring Turkish Cypriot concerns.

Eroglu argued that the Turkish Cypriots have been isolated from the international community for the last 50 years and have every right to seek effective guarantees to prevent a repeat of the past.

Speaking to the Cyprus Mail on Wednesday, a foreign diplomatic source with knowledge of the peace talks said the joint communiqué under discussion is a more ambitious document than the two high level agreements reached in the late 1970s.

Reaching a conclusion on the contested text would be “very important” for the process as it would set agreed parameters for what a solution should be, while also implying a “shared commitment and ambition” for a solution.

The source said agreement could be reached before Turkey’s election cycle kicks in with crucial municipal elections due in March.

Full negotiations could then begin in parallel with Turkish elections.

Hard political choices are not expected before Turkey’s presidential elections in August, but after then and before elections in the occupied areas in spring 2015, the window exists for a Cyprus solution, said the source.

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