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Wide divisions as leaders enter talks.


Poly Pantelides

THE TWO leaders met yesterday with UN Secretary-General (UNSG) Ban Ki-moon in New York, following an intensely pessimistic week leading up to the meeting.

Going in to Greentree estate on Long island, Greek Cypriot sources told media outlets that no outlines of the talks had been given, save for the general schedule describing breakfasts, lunches and photo sessions.

In the run-up to Greentree, Christofias told Turkish Cypriots in London that Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu had gone back on his promise to continue the talks where his predecessor Mehmet Ali Talat had left them.

Christofias was adamant that the Greek Cypriot side would not agree to an international conference without prior agreement on basic issues of the Cyprus problem.

Eroglu responded by saying that Christofias was lying.

"No chapter was closed during the Christofias-Talat negotiations and (Christofias) is misleading people by saying that I have been backtracking. I have not been backtracking. I have been constantly constructive, the side making proposals," Eroglu told Turkish Cypriot newspaper Havadis before the Greentree meeting.

Eroglu said - despite Christofias' proclamations to the contrary - an international conference on the Cyprus problem should be held regardless of whether or not progress is made in Greentree.

"At this meeting, the sides are obliged to finish this thing by putting all chapters on the negotiating table. The UNSG may give Greek Cypriots a chance up until July 1 but if nothing comes out of this meeting I can't say that there can be anything to us meeting from now on," Eroglu said.

Cyprus takes on the presidency of the European Union council this July and following that there will be presidential elections in February 13, making July a natural break in the Cyprus problem negotiations.

However, Greek Cypriot sources yesterday referred to July 1 as "an artificial landmark" adding that that negotiations should be allowed to take their own course.

The head of the main opposition party DISY Nicos Anastasiades expressed "hope" that the Greek Cypriot side did not end up "facing new deadlock binding our own side". This was echoed by DIKO head Marios Garoyian who talked of efforts "to be dragged to deadlock" by some UN circles and "Turkey's powerful friends".

Ruling party AKEL issued a plea for parties to stand united.

"We are especially saddened by the public unfolding of various scenarios and danger-mongering following statements of various party members," an AKEL statement said.

Yesterday started with a photo session of the Ban, Eroglu, Christofias and their wives.

A working breakfast ensued in the presence of UN special adviser Alexander Downer and the two leaders' advisers.

The UNSG and the two sides held joint meetings until lunch time when Ban left Greentree to allow for direct talks in the afternoon until evening.

No outlines seem to have been given by the two sides although property, government and citizenship were on the agenda for discussion according to Greek Cypriot sources.

Downer was expected to make statements at the end of yesterday's session in what is the fourth year of the current round of talks and the fifth time Ban personally participated in the talks since 2010.

Meanwhile, the wives of the two leaders have been doing a bit of shopping and sightseeing with Ban's wife.

Copyright Cyprus Mail 2012

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Jan 24, 2012
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