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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Iacovou hails ‘smooth progress’ in talks ]

Iacovou hails ‘smooth progress’ in talks

THE TECHNICAL and working groups on the Cyprus issue held their second meeting yesterday and will continue on a daily basis until the end of May, Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou said.
Iacovou also announced that the new UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative Taye-Brook Zerihoun would arrive on the island between May 7 and 12.

The Presidential Commissioner met Acting Special Representative Elizabeth Spehar yesterday. Spehar will leave Cyprus as soon as Zeirhoun arrives.

Iacovou said Secretary-General Ban Ko-moon had not yet decided whether to appoint a special Cyprus envoy. This would depend on the progress made at the working groups and technical committees, he said.
The two sides agreed last month to set up six working groups and seven technical committees. The six working groups include governance and power-sharing, EU, security and guarantees, territory, property and economy.

The technical committees will focus on crime, commerce, cultural heritage, crisis management, humanitarian issues, health and environment.

They are designed to tackle everyday concerns, while the working groups are to handle substantive issues of the Cyprus question
After meeting separately with Spehar, Iacovou met Ozdil Nami, the adviser to Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, and the two aides evaluated progress so far with the UN Representative.
“Our common assessment of the situation is that everything has evolved very smoothly,” Iacovou said.

The Presidential Commissioner said he meets and talks with the committee heads frequently and was receiving constant updates and if necessary requests for guidance.

“What they need is clarifications, how to react to specific challenges from the other side and this is very natural in such an exchange of views,” Iacovou said.

He said he was satisfied with the done work so far but cautioned that it was too soon to jump to any conclusions.

He also stressed that his use of the word “challenges” should not be misinterpreted as an obstacle to progress. “Just that they [the Turkish Cypriot side] may say something terribly clever that we had not thought of,” he added.

The main shadow over the process has been the shadow of the failed Annan plan, which was rejected by the Greek Cypriots in referendum four years ago yesterday. The Turkish side keeps referring to the UN blueprint as a basis for negotiations, while the Greek Cypriot side continues to reject the notion.

The most recent such comment from the Turkish side came from Nami.
But Iacovou said that during his meeting with Talat in September last year, then President Tassos Papadopoulos, a fierce opponent of the plan
“had accepted the principle that Mr Talat can bring to the negotiating table pieces of the Annan plan”.

“We cannot go back, and we have made no effort to change this, because Mr Talat said to President Christofias ‘are you tougher than Papadopoulos and will not allow me to negotiate in this manner?’ What is important is that it cannot be brought to the table as a document for negotiation, because the plan does not exist,” Iacovou said.
He did say, however, that the Turkish Cypriot side could raise aspects of the plan. “There may be aspects which we will not object to, but this document can simply not be a basis for negotiation,” Iacovou said.
Iacovou also said that next week the two sides would look at establishing more committees and groups once some progress was being made on the current 13 panels.

There was also a possibility that Talat and President Demetris Christofias could meet socially on May 7 at a reception hosted by the Slovak embassy, Iacovou said.

It will be the third meeting between them inside two months. They last met at a reception during the visit by UN Undersecretary Lynn Pascoe at the beginning of the month, and before that met officially on March 21.
Talat also crossed to the Greek Cypriot side to take a walk on Ledra Street on April 11.

Yesterday, Christofias sent the Turkish Cypriot leader an Easter basket filled with Easter eggs, flaounes and zivania.

(Source: Cyprus Mail)

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