THE United Nations yesterday sought once more to put an end to suggestions it was trying to act as an arbitrator in the negotiations between the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities to resolve the Cyprus problem.
Speaking to reporters after a 45-minute meeting with President Demetris Christofias, United Nations special adviser Alexander Downer said the two leaders will be meeting with the organisation’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in Geneva on January 25 or 26.
The Geneva meeting had been set in New York last week when Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglus met Ban.
The two leaders agreed to intensify the talks and meet in the Swiss city to review their progress.
“I’ve noticed a certain amount of debate in Cyprus, about whether this means timetable or arbitration,” Downer said. “I don’t know how often I have read that we are involved in secret plans for mediation and arbitration. I am not quite sure why that is said and the most creative attempts imaginable are to try to provide evidence to support this assertion. It is not true.”
The Secretary-General has always said, and he said during the meeting with the leaders in New York that this is a Cypriot-led and Cypriot-run process, the Australian diplomat said.
“The UN obviously helps with the process, has been invited to do so, but we are not planning to be arbitrators in this process. We have said that over and over again.”
Downer said the talks process needs momentum.
“There are times when it has had good momentum and there are times it hasn’t,” he said.
But it lacked momentum of late and “we have been quite concerned about how the process has been getting bogged down particularly in the negotiations over property.”
Downer said in New York, Ban was able to inject some new momentum into the process and the Geneva meeting was about maintaining that momentum.
“It is not about saying that everything has to be agreed by January or we are going to pack our toys and run away,” Downer said.
He added that the process needs to keep moving forward and it needs to do so “fairly rapidly.”
“We don’t want it just to get bogged down into talks for the sake of talks,” he said.
In the run up to Geneva, the burden of the day to day work will be carried by the leaders’ representatives with Christofias and Eroglu meeting to review their work.
The next meeting between the two leaders has not been scheduled yet.