November 23, 2017

All set for direct talks says UN top official

United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has received verbal confirmation from both sides in Cyprus that they will be attending the forthcoming direct negotiations in New York, and said everything is in place for the talks, UN Resident Special Representative to Cyprus, Gustave Feissel has said.

Feissel also said he does not expect anything “magic” out of the first round of talks, but he anticipates the peace process “to move forward.”

“When I visited both (leaders) to give the letter from the Secretary-General, I was told by both orally they were going to be there. So, we are not waiting for any reply. We have a reply. Everything is ready. There is nothing outstanding,” Feissel said today following a meeting with President of the Republic Glafcos Clerides.

Feissel met with President Clerides to give further “logistical information” on the meetings, scheduled to take place between July 9 and 13 in New York area.

The UN envoy refrained from speculating on the outcome of the talks, saying that “one should not expect some magic thing coming out of this first meeting.”

“It does not serve any purpose to prejudge or anticipate what will happen, nor should now pay too much attention to what people say now, because the proof of the pudding is going to be what (the leaders) say there. That is what they are going to be accountable for,” he said.

Feissel added that the international community expects both sides to proceed to the direct negotiations “with a very serious intent” an to make “a real concrete contribution” towards a comprehensive settlement.

The UN official said that although representatives will be closely monitoring the talks from nearby the meeting will be “strictly between the two sides and two sides the UN.”

Asked to comment on consistent violations of Cypriot airspace and territorial waters by Turkish military aircraft and warships respectively over the past few weeks, Feissel said that “everyone should do what they can to create the best possible atmosphere for these talks so that when they begin, it is the best possible situation.”

On the military dialogue between the National Guard and the Turkish occupation forces, initiated to reduce tension along the cease-fire, Feissel could not confirm that any progress has been made, but expressed hope that real progress occurs in the time prior to the start of the talks.

“It’s been eight months since we started, it should not have taken anywhere near that kind of time, and we hope that before the direct talks begin, we have some concrete, positive results,” he said.

Meanwhile the Government Spokesman in Nicosia, Manolis Christophides, stated that the Greek-Cypriot side is attending the talks with goodwill, determination and conviction. The declared support of the political leadership, he said, strengthens the President’s negotiating stance.

The National Council decided that political party leaders will accompany the President to New York to offer their advice and assessments on unfolding developments during the negotiations.