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Talks move to issues of substance

By Jean Christou

THE VISIT on Monday by the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, kicked off a busy week for the Cyprus talks, which are scheduled to enter a substantive agenda on Tuesday.

The EU Commission’s President Jose Manuel Barroso’s personal envoy on Cyprus Peter Van Nuffel is also due on the island today, while President Nicos Anastasiades is to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel where the Cyprus issue will also be in focus.

Feltman met both leaders about the next moves in the negotiations. Confidence building measures were also discussed. The visit was slightly marred by Feltman’s gaffe in referring to ‘two peoples’ in Cyprus, a term always used by the Turkish side rather than the more general ‘two sides’ or ‘two communities. He made the comment after his meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.

The faux pas caused some reaction from the Greek Cypriot political parties but the Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said after his meeting with Feltman that the issue had been raised and was now closed after the UN issued a statement using the ‘more correct terminology’ of ‘two sides’ in reference to the UN’s support.

According to a UN statement, Feltman conveyed to the two leaders the Secretary-General’s continued personal focus on the process, “recognising the historic importance of the joint declaration and underlining the need to  maintain momentum in the talks”. It said Feltman had reiterated “the United Nations’ readiness to continue to support the two sides in their efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement”.

Speaking after his meeting with Anastasiades in the morning, Feltman referred to it as “excellent”.

“This is my first trip to Cyprus in my capacity as UN Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, and I was able to convey the Secretary General’s strong support of the joint declaration of February 11,” he said.

Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said later the UN shared the Greek Cypriot side’s position that whatever proposals were submitted at the negotiating table must be within the framework of the joint communiqué.

“It was a very good and useful meeting during which there was an evaluation of the (current) phase of the talks,” he said.

“Also stressed was the need for promoting and adopting bold confidence building measures, measures which, in parallel with the negotiating process, will give an impetus to the negotiating process itself. The need for a more active involvement by the European Union was stressed as well,” the spokesman added.

Kasoulides said on Sunday serious efforts would get underway today during the meeting between Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart.

Until now the process has consisted of ‘screening’ the positions of both sides. No great progress could or was expected to be achieved during this period, Kasoulides said. “We are entering the second phase of talks,” he said, referring to it as a “serious effort”.

The meeting is expected to cover the property issue and the powers of the executive, and it will be up to the two negotiators to decide how the process will be handled in terms of finishing out one chapter at a time or deciding to move on to another issue at their next meeting.



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