Cyprus talks failing, Turkish side tells UN

Cyprus talks failing, Turkish side tells UN

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Cyprus talks failing, Turkish side tells UN

Picture featuring Turkish Cypriot President Eroğlu (R) shaking hands with Greek counterpart Christofias (L) with UN envoy Downer watching has been left behind as the Turkish sides says the prospects for progress to the reunification talks are diminishing. AA photo

Turkish Cyprus has told the United Nations that it should work on confidence-building measures between Turkish and Greek Cyprus, because reunification talks are unlikely to make progress soon, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned.

The proposal was delivered by the Turkish Cypriot leadership to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy to Cyprus, Alexander Downer, who had earlier reported that the parties had not been able to make progress in the talks. Downer’s announcement caused Ban to call off a planned international conference to reach a breakthrough in the years-long negotiations.

The proposal reflects Turkish Cyprus’ disappointment that the international community, particularly the UN, has not exerted enough effort to push Greek Cyprus to an agreement before July 1, when Greek Cyprus assumes the EU’s term presidency for six months.

Although it shows that the UN-led process has clearly failed, it should not be interpreted as a declaration of the end of peace talks, according to diplomatic sources. “We have been hoping that we would move forward in the talks, but Greek Cyprus’ irreconcilable, hard-line stance is still continuing. The report to be publicized by the UN General Secretary is very important for us,” Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said in a televised statement yesterday.

“We stand where we are” he said, adding that it had not be possible to shake hands with the Greek Cypriots on an agreement due to the latter’s EU membership since 2004.

Turkey has already announced that it will suspend its relations with the EU presidency during the second half of 2012 if there is no solution to the Cyprus question before that time. Ankara’s position has been backed by the Turkish Cypriot government, which has declared that it will not continue talks if Greek Cyprus assumes the EU presidency unilaterally.

Due to the inevitable deadlock in the U.N.-sponsored negotiations, caused by Greek Cyprus’ EU term presidency and its upcoming presidential elections in 2013, Turkish Cyprus has proposed establishing a climate of confidence within this timeframe by solving day-to-day problems on the island. As part of the measures, sources mentioned resolving judicial problems that occur when criminals cross over to the other side of the island to escape trial.

According to the proposal, teams tasked with confidence-building measures such as mutual extradition of criminals and the preservation of cultural heritage should start working when the talks end, after Greek Cyprus assumes the EU presidency. Downer, who is carrying out shuttle diplomacy between the parties, is currently looking into the feasibility of the proposal.