PRESIDENT Demetris Christofias yesterday met the six heads of the working groups to assess progress ahead of his meeting tomorrow with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
The meeting lasted two and a half hours.
Tomorrow’s meeting with Talat will be crucial in clarifying both the terms of the March 21 agreement between the two leaders, and the Greek Cypriot side’s concern that progress has been slow a month into the process.
Christofias said because the teams had been operating for only a month, he didn’t want to jump to conclusions on the rate of progress.
He said lots of work was still needed before finally determining whether there has been progress.
“”We need to be cautious and cool headed because the objective is to talk the same language so that we can come to direct negotiations that will have the prospect of achieving results,” he said.
As far as the two sides coming from the same place in the working groups and technical committees, Christofias said this would be discussed with Talat tomorrow.
The President is expected to ask during tomorrow’s meeting for more time before beginning negotiations with Talat on the substance of the Cyprus problem.
The Turkish Cypriot side interprets the March 21 agreement as providing for direct negotiations to begin on June 21.
“This needed to be discussed,” Christofias said.
In the US, Government Spokesman Stefanos Stefanou told a gathering of foreign correspondents that progress in the working groups, which were dealing with the four core issues of the Cyprus problem, was very important in laying the groundwork for new talks.
“Unfortunately on these core issues we do not speak the same language, something we must do if we are to bridge the differences and move on to the next phase of this process,” he said.
Stefanou said Turkey had to change its position and allow the Turkish Cypriot side to make its own decisions. “We don’t want Turkey to feel that the solution will be a defeat for her, instead we want the solution of the Cyprus problem to be a win-win situation for everybody, and especially the people of Cyprus,” he added.
During his visit to the US, Stefanou also met UN Under-Secretary General Lynn Pascoe.
UN sources told the Cyprus News Agency the Stephanou-Pascoe meeting focused on the status of the current process at the level of the groups and the committees, and on the importance of tomorrow’s meeting between the two leaders.
Published by Jean Christou 22/5/08