Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders begin intensive, UN-backed talks


The leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities on Monday held the first of 19 intensive, all-day, United Nations-supported meetings aimed at reunifying the island.

The meeting between Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart, Dervis Eroglu, “took place in a positive atmosphere,” said Special Representative of the Secretary-General Lisa M. Buttenheim.

The first four meetings, at the headquarters of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), were devoted to governance and power-sharing, said Buttenheim, who heads the mission.

Both parties earlier this month accepted an offer from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for an enhanced UN mediation role in the talks aimed at achieving a united Cyprus. Mr. Ban said at the time he expected both sides to reach convergence on core issues by October.
“I stated to Mr. Christofias and Mr. Eroglu that while I agreed that the negotiations must be Cypriot-led and Cypriot-owned, I was prepared to offer an enhanced United Nations involvement, without prejudice to this central principle,” Ban had stated.

The UN has been facilitating talks between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leadership with a view to the eventual establishment of a federal government with a single international personality, consisting of a Turkish Cypriot Constituent State and a Greek Cypriot Constituent State, each of equal status.

UNFICYP, which has been deployed on the island since 1964, currently has nearly 1,000 uniformed personnel and 150 international and national civilian staff. The Security Council extended the mission’s mandate last month for another six months and urged the leadership of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities to accelerate the pace of their talks.