UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the two sides in Cyprus to maintain momentum in the negotiations.
A spokesman for Ban, who was briefing the press after a meeting the Secretary-General had with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu in New York, said: “They exchanged views on the negotiations and had a productive discussion about the way forward in light of the resumption of the talks on 11 February.”
“The Secretary-General urged Mr Eroglu to maintain the current momentum in the talks, together with the Greek Cypriot leader, Mr Nicos Anastasiades. The Secretary-General reaffirmed his continued personal attention and the United Nations commitment to assisting the sides in reaching a comprehensive settlement on the Cyprus issue,” the spokesman added.
Eroglu, speaking through an interpreter, said he had a very fruitful meeting with Ban “who is very much focused on the Cyprus negotiations and he is encouraging both sides towards an early settlement in Cyprus, and that is also the desire of the Turkish Cypriot side”.
“Of course in order to find a settlement it is important that the sides make proposals which are also acceptable to the other party sitting at the negotiating table. We are acting in accordance with this understanding,” added Eroglu.
He said the Turkish side was engaged in the negotiations in good faith, making constructive proposals and bridging proposals. “Our target remains to reach a settlement of the Cyprus problem the soonest.”
Eroglu said Ban had been very supportive and encouraging. “From the meeting, I have seen that he is fully focused. He is closely following the negotiations and he is supporting an early settlement as I have mentioned before,” Eroglu said.
Asked about comments he made before arriving in New York that the two sides were separated by an “abyss”, Eroglu said; “The whole point of negotiations is to bridge the gaps that I mentioned before my departure here, so of course we have recently resumed the negotiations as I have just mentioned and during the course of the negotiations we try to bridge our differences and find a comprehensive settlement in the shortest possible time,” he added.
“Our view is that a settlement is possible within this year and we can finalise a settlement and take it to separate simultaneous referenda in 2014.”
Regarding the issue of hydrocarbons, Eroglu said the subject was not brought up with the Secretary-General “but certainly it is an issue that relates to both peoples on the island of Cyprus and we will continue to take up the matter with our Greek Cypriot counterparts”.
Also quizzed on the ratio of Turkish settlers to Turkish Cypriots was and whether the issue of continued settlement by Turkish mainlanders had come up in the talks, Eroglu said: “We don`t accept any discrimination between our citizens and we don’t discuss this matter”.
“As is the case everywhere in the world, for example in the United States, there are people coming from any part of the world but they are all citizens of the United States, and it is not possible, not in Cyprus or anywhere in the world to make any discrimination among its citizens. And all our citizens back in Cyprus, in northern Cyprus, their citizenships are guaranteed under our constitution and as I said before there can be no discrimination,” he said. (CNA)