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Cyprus Internet Directory [ North insists it will not stall Cyprus talks ]

North insists it will not stall Cyprus talks

ALL SEEMED set yesterday for a quick and fresh start to negotiations between newly-elected Greek Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mehmet Ali Talat on solving the long-running Cyprus problem.

Speaking after meeting Talat yesterday, UN Special Representative to Cyprus Michael Moller said all that remained was for the two leaders to “to pin down the date” – something he said he would leave to the leaders to announce “hopefully this week”.

After meeting on Monday with Christofias, Moller had said he believed the first meeting between the two would take place in the second half of March.

Following Moller’s statements yesterday, Talat’s spokesman Hasan Ercakica told journalists the Turkish Cypriot side was committed to starting negotiations “as soon as possible”, but that both leaders had a number of commitments and engagements to fulfill before an initial meeting could take place.

“There are also procedures that need to be completed before a definite date can be determined… but I believe that in the next few days we’ll be able to give you a date,” he said, stressing there was no question of stalling on the part of the Turkish Cypriot side, and that its leadership remained “committed to a solution of the Cyprus problem as soon as possible”.

Ercakica added, however, that the north would employ a wait-and-see approach to early stages of negotiations to ensure that the Greek Cypriot side was not simply seeking to improve its image internationally by appearing keen to negotiate. But he was quick to add that it “does not mean we won’t take a positive stance and put forward ideas”.

Ercakica was also keen to play down the notion that Turkey, ahead of meetings between Talat and officials in Ankara on Thursday, might be less willing now than in the past to give its backing to a solution thrashed out between the two Cypriot leaders.

“The belief that Ankara is against a solution is wrong. We have been sure in the past, and are sure now, that Ankara is ready [for a solution],” he insisted, adding that it was partly because of Ankara’s positive stance that the international community was so pleased that a moderate had been elected to lead the Greek Cypriot side in negotiations.

Nevertheless, Ercakica said that north Nicosia and Ankara would be looking “in detail” at the policy they would take into the negotiating room when they met on Thursday.

“The alliance has to be strong because even the slightest differences can be damaging to the process,” he said.

Moller also spoke yesterday of his hopes that the symbolic barricade in the heart of old Nicosia at Ledra Street would be lifted in the near future, saying that there remained “no reason why it shouldn’t happen”. He added that once he had been given the go-ahead from the two sides, the crossing could be opened “fairly quickly”.

“All that we need to do is make sure it is safe for pedestrians,” he said.

Moller also said the Greek Cypriots had not laid down conditions to the opening of the crossing – a move which Ercakica later welcomed. He added that the Turkish Cypriot side’s stance on the opening of the crossing was that “it should be opened as soon as possible in the same way as the other crossings”.

A UN mission is due in Cyprus, either at the end of March or the beginning of April, to gauge the willingness of the two sides to negotiate a settlement. The outcome of the visit will be the deciding factor as to whether the UN will mediate between them.

(Source: Cyprus Mail)

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