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Turkish-Cypriot Official Slams Russian Statement On Multilateral Conference

Turkish-Cypriot official Hüseyin Özgürgün has slammed Russia's statement on a multilateral conference proposed by UN Secretary-general Ban ki-Moon for April or May as part of reunification talks, saying that they are 'intransigent' and 'negative'

"The negative attitude of Russia is increasing from day to day and their attitude is supported by the other permanent member countries of the UN Security Council as China and France that does not support a solution," said Özgürgün in a written statement.

A multilateral conference would be held with Cyprus' guarantors Turkey, Greece and the UK, and Ban ki-Moon said it would be organised in April or May if Cyprus' leaders Demetris Christofias and Dervis Eroglu made progress in finding solutions to the issues of governance, property, citizenship and territory.

Ban ki-Moon's announcement brought down a storm of criticism from Greek-Cypriot political parties, who denounced it as an imposed timetable that is not accepted by the Greek-Cypriot side. Russia made a statement supporting this position which was welcomed by government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou.

The latest direct reunification talks have been going on for over three years and are one move short of a deadlock even after five trilateral summits between Cyprus' leaders and the UN Secretary-general. UN Security Council members Russia, China and France staunchly support a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with a single international sovereignty based on multiple UN resolutions. This system of government should be reached through a Cypriot-led process without deadlines and only after agreement on all levels, according to past statements from these countries.

In practice, the conflicts over property occupied by Turkish troops and usurped by Turkish-Cypriots or foreigners has proved to be almost impossible for both sides to agree upon. The Greek Cypriot negotiators will not consider a solution in which their property will be lost forever and the Turkish Cypriots reject a scenario in which 100,000 Greek-Cypriot property owners return to their own land. The issue of two separate states, a position favoured by Eroglu, is a seemingly insurmountable obstacle that would never be accepted by the Greek-Cypriot side which does not recognise the 'Turkish Republic of  Northern Cyprus' set up in the 1980's after the Turkish invasion.

Linked to this is the serious disagreement is over governance - how would power be distributed and government positions parcelled out between the two largest communities on the island? Who would be president and how would he/she be voted into office? There was an agreement providing for a rotating presidency elected with a weighted vote, but this agreement was between Christofias and former Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat who was a relative moderate politically speaking. Eroglu has backed away from this agreement and insists on two separate states, according to Christofias' statements on the matter.

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