NEWS

Cyprus peace talks to resume

A United Nations spokesman yesterday announced that stalled Cyprus reunification talks are scheduled to resume on May 26. UN spokesman Rolando Gomez said in a statement that following consultations between Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s special adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer and the leaders of the two rival communities of the divided island, «Cyprus talks will resume on Wednesday, May 26, at 10 a.m. at the United Nations Protected Area in Nicosia.» The UN-backed reunification talks were suspended in late March, ahead of April 18 elections in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus, which saw pro-solution leftist Mehmet Ali Talat replaced by nationalist hardliner Dervis Eroglou. As part of his election campaign, Eroglou advocated greater independence for his community, a breakaway region recognized only by Ankara. Eroglou’s election had raised concerns among Greek Cypriots that any progress made between Talat and Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias during intensive talks that began in September 2008 would be put into jeopardy by Eroglou’s separatist stance. But Downer said in a separate statement on Tuesday that the new Turkish-Cypriot leader had agreed to pick up where the talks left off. «It’s a good outcome and I think we will just have to wait and see how the talks go once they resume, but it’s good we are getting the process going again,» said Downer. «This is an agreement which is within the reach of the leaders,» he added. «What is needed is the political will to grasp it.» Major issues that remain pending on the negotiation table are property rights and security. Chapters such as governance, power sharing, EU affairs and the economy, on which significant progress has already been made, will not be reopened by Eroglou, said Downer. «Both leaders have made it clear to me that they are very committed to a solution. Time will tell,» added Downer.