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No Big Steps Forward in Reunification Talks - Christofias

cyprus reunification talks greentreeThe fourth round of meetings with UN Secretary-general Ban ki-Moon have proved to be fruitless, with President Demetris Christofias saying there was no big step forward and that another meeting will be arranged in January 2012.

Between October 30th-November 1st, Ban ki-Moon and Cyprus leaders Demetris Christofias and Dervis Eroglu had intensive talks at Greentree Estate in Manhasset in New York, with the main issues of governance, power-sharing, property and territory under discussion. Christofias said that bridging the differences by January would be difficult, but not impossible.

Ban k-Moon said that there is still work to be done.

"Their Excellencies, Mr. Christofias and Mr. Eroglu, have agreed that further efforts are essential over the next two months to move to the end game of the negotiations...I have invited the two leaders to meet with me again in a similar format in January next year.  By then, I expect the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem to have been resolved so that we can move to the multilateral conference shortly thereafter," said the UNSG.

In the recent round of talks with the UNSG,  the leaders were photographed at Greentree appearing at ease and all without ties in a carefully choreographed message of friendship.

But back home, the president is being criticised for not informing the National Council about developments in the negotiations by all parties except the communist party AKEL. The president denied that he had not informed the National Council, saying that he always did this.

On October 30th, Ban ki-Moon met with the leaders for two hours and the negotiations throughout the day continued with Special Adviser Alexander Downer and UN Under-Secretary-General B. Lynn Pascoe.

"These discussions have been positive, productive and vigorous...From our point of view, the United Nations is pleased with the way it is going," said Downer.

Cyprus leaders Demetris Christofias and Dervis Eroglu still have significant differences on the core issues of governance, power-sharing, property and security and went to New York to meet UN Secretary-general Ban ki-Moon to discuss these problems.

On October 21st, the leaders had their last meeting in an intensified phase of talks in which they tried to reach agreements on the most difficult issues.

The current round of UN-led peace talks started in 2008 between Christofias and Mehmet Ali Talat, who was replaced by Eroglu after elections in the Turkish-Cypriot community. The main principle is that it will be a Cypriot solution negotiated by Cypriots. Once talks are wrapped up, a reunification plan will be presented to Ban ki-Moon, a process which will be followed by separate referenda in both communities.

Given President Christofias' low approval rating after the deadly explosion at Evangelos Florakis naval base, it would be more than usually risky to present a new plan to the Greek-Cypriot side and expect approval, say analysts. Nonetheless, Ban ki-Moon said he fully expects the leaders to resolve all major differences by January so that a high-level international summit can be arranged.

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