In statements after meeting Cyprus President Demetris Christofias at the Presidential Palace, Downer said ”we are coming to the end of what it is sometimes called the first reading of the chapters of the negotiations.”
”It depends above all on the leaders, the good will and support of the leaders and the people. If the leaders and the people want a solution then anything can be achieved, if people don’t want a solution it won’t happen,” Downer said, adding ”but the leaders have good will and they want a solution so we look forward to the next meeting on Thursday.”
Asked when the talks will enter the second reading, Downer said that the second reading will begin ”almost certainly” on September 3.
Asked whether this phase will be shorter, Downer said the second reading ”doesn’t have a defined finishing date,” adding ”I always say we need in this process momentum.”
He noted that ”when the leaders get to the second reading we will see how they go and how the issues are handled and what problems will arise, I suppose we can anticipate a lot of that, a lot of questions that will have to be debated.”
”I have no illusions that it will be easy, this isn’t an easy process but in any case the important thing is they maintain the momentum,” he pointed out.
Replying to a question whether the second reading will be tougher, Downer said noted that some issues have been dealt with and that there is a degree of convergence on a number of matters, noting that ”as you move on you are dealing with more and more with the issues of divergence and the challenge is to reach convergence on all issues across the board.”
”So presumably logic tells you that the leaders will leave the hardest issues to resolve to last, logic tells you that. That is inevitable, I suppose, in any international or national negotiation,” he noted.
Replying to question on the tender on Limnitis road, Downer said that the UN is working on the issue and holds talks with the two sides about how the tender will work, adding none of that is being concluded yet.
So far, President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader had 39 meetings under the auspices of the UN covering all six chapters of the process, namely, Governance and power-sharing, EU matters, territory, property, Security and economic matters. On Thursday, Christofias and Talat will have their 40th meeting, expected to be the last of the first reading phase. Leaders will resume talks on September 3 after the summer break.
Cyprus, an EU member-state since May 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.
Financial Mirror, August 05, 2009