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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Way cleared for talks ]

Way cleared for talks

THE WAY was cleared yesterday for full-fledged negotiations on the Cyprus issue when a major concern of the Greek Cypriot side was addressed and agreed in principle between the two leaders.

President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat met for four and a half hours yesterday morning at the residence of UN Special Representative for Cyprus Taye-Brook Zerihoun to review progress in the working groups and technical committees and to clarify the basis for new talks.

Although a date was not fixed for the beginning of new negotiations, the leaders pledged to meet again on July 25 for a final review of the working groups and technical committees. It is widely expected that a date for talks in the autumn will be announced then.

The fact that former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer revealed he would be taking up the post of UN special Cyprus envoy has also come as confirmation that direct talks are around the corner.

But more importantly, Christofias, who had some concerns, now appears to be on board after clarifying the importance of including sovereignty and citizenship in the framework of new talks with Talat.

The issue had strained relations somewhat since the leaders last met on May 23, an encounter that had led to different interpretations of what had been agreed that day.

Zerihoun read out a brief statement after yesterday’s meeting saying the atmosphere had been positive and cooperative. He said the leaders had undertaken a first review of the working groups and technical committees.

They had also discussed the issue of single sovereignty and citizenship “and they agreed in principle”, Zerihoun said. “They agreed to discuss the details of their implementation during the full-fledged negotiations,” he added.

Diplomatic sources told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the new joint statement had gone a long way to easing the concerns of the Greek Cypriot side on what the basis of new talks would be.

The May 23 joint statement by the leaders had left a sour taste on the Greek Cypriot side. “The new joint statement does not supersede the agreement of May 23. It augments and clarifies it,” said the sources.

“It will form part of the basis of what the talks will be about. It satisfies Greek Cypriot concerns over the basis for negotiations or at least goes a long way towards doing that.”

The general impression was that the two leaders left the meeting satisfied.

Christofias said as much when he returned to the Presidential Palace.

The leaders also discussed the memorandum signed recently between Nicosia and London, which had left the Turkish Cypriot side angry.

Christofias said he would be informing the National Council later today on the meeting with Talat.

All that remains is for the UN Secretary General to officially announce Downer’s appointment as special envoy, which he is expected to do as soon as a date for the talks is fixed.

Speaking to an Australian newspaper, Downer said he was looking forward to the challenge.

“It's not going to be a cakewalk,” he told The Australian, pointing to the many failed attempts to solve the Cyprus issue in the past. “These things are always untidy. It's never easy to do. We ended the civil war in Bougainville. We played our part in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why not try to fix up Cyprus as well?"

(Source: Cyprus Mail)

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