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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Our View: The UN clock is ticking ever more urgently on peace talks ]

Our View: The UN clock is ticking ever more urgently on peace talks

U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL Ban Ki-moon surprised no-one with his decision to put back to June the meeting with Christofias and Eroglu. There has quite clearly been inadequate progress in the ongoing talks to justify such a meeting and Ban decided it would be meaningless to see the leaders and go over the same points again. Could it be that the UN chief is running out of patience?

The last time he met them in Geneva he had urged them to intensify the negotiations with a view to achieving convergences on a range of issues by the end of March. He also suggested they sought the help of his experts in order to resolve their differences on the property issue. None of this happened and the only progress reported was on the chapters of EU affairs and the economy, on which there had never been a great divergence in the positions of the two sides.

In the first meeting held in New York towards the end of last year Ban had asked the two leaders to discuss all chapters and where there were differences to make practical proposals for overcoming them. His suggestion was not taken very seriously and when the two went to Geneva it was apparent that they had ignored it completely. Hence, there was no point repeating this futile exercise again now.

Ban has invested considerable time in trying to help the procedure, encouraging the leaders, offering assistance, making practical suggestions and setting targets, but was ignored. Even his call for intensifying the talks and a sense of urgency were largely ignored, the leaders meeting once a week and delegating most of the work to their advisors.

For how much longer would he be prepared to invest time and effort in a procedure that is not going anywhere, dealing with leaders who seem to disregard his advice? We suspect that the June meeting might be the last one. If there isn’t sufficient progress by then – the talks will have been going on for three years - he could withdraw Alexander Downer and his team and leave the two sides to solve the problem on their own.

In his reports he has repeatedly said that the United Nations did not want interminable talks, which is what the procedure has been developing into.

Will sufficient progress be made by June to justify the continuation of the procedure? We think not, but Ban may give the two sides one last shot at reaching an agreement, probably by asking them to attend a multi-party meeting at which a final push for a deal would be made.

A rejection of this proposal could signal the end of the UN’s involvement in the peace effort.

(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.

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