Ban and Obama welcome resumption of peace talks, Turkish Cypriot President Eroglu says final deal remains far off.
UNITED NATIONS - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday that he welcomed the resumption of peace talks between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and the Greek Cypriot administration and a joint declaration by both parties regarding efforts to end the drawn-out political dispute on the divided island.
In a written statement, Ban praised the efforts of Turkish Cypriot President Dervis Eroglu and Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiadis to start fully fledged negotiations aimed at reaching a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
"I commend the leaders for their commitment to resuming negotiations and for their hard work in the past months to reach what is an important statement of shared principles and invaluable basis for renewed talks," he said.
Ban said Special Adviser Alexander Downer informed him of his decision to take up a new position now that a joint communiqué has been achieved.
He thanked Downer for his perseverance and commitment to the Cyprus issue over the past five and a half years.
"The United Nations will continue to support the Greek and Turkish Cypriots in their efforts to reunify the island and move on from decades of separation. I personally pledge our resolute commitment to these efforts," Ban concluded his statement.
After a nearly two year-long pause since the last round of talks stumbled due to the eurozone debt crisis and the Greek Cypriot side`s assuming of the EU rotating presidency in 2012. Eroglu and Anastasiades held their first meeting on Tuesday in a UN-controlled buffer zone on the island.
The leaders issued a joint declaration that outlines how the talks should move forward. It recommends recognizing the equal status of the two states, while aiming to bring the divided communities closer under a federated government.
Peace talks between the Greek Cypriot administration and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) continue under a UN initiative.
The Greek Cypriot administration is a member of the European Union and recognized internationally except by Turkey. Only the Republic of Turkey recognizes the TRNC.
The Annan Plan, or the Comprehensive Settlement of the Cyprus Question, proposes to resolve the dispute by restructuring the island as the "United Republic of Cyprus", which would be a federation of two states.
- Obama pleased, encouraged by the resumption of talks
The White House welcomed the resumption of peace talks to end the long-standing dispute in Cyprus Tuesday.
"President Obama and the United States welcome the meeting today of the two Cypriot leaders, Mr. Nicos Anastasiades and Mr. Dervis Eroglu, and the renewal of negotiations on a Cyprus settlement under the auspices of the United Nations," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement released to the press.
Cyprus has been partitioned since a military coup in 1974 attempted to unify the island with Greece, which was followed by a Turkish military intervention.
Carney added: "The division of Cyprus has endured for far too long. Through a settlement, both communities can realize their full potential, with enhanced stability and economic prosperity for all the people of the island."
He lauded the "constructive role" of both Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in bringing the parties to the negotiating table.
"We encourage the sides to work expeditiously to resolve the outstanding core issues and achieve a settlement that reunifies Cyprus as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation at the earliest possible time," Carney said.
- `Joint declaration is a positive step, but not a resolution`
Speaking at a press meeting at the Presidential Palace in Lefkosa, Eroglu said that although he is pleased with the resumption of talks with Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiadis and his team, the joint declaration includes abstract statements that are open to interpretation.
"Therefore, the Cyprus issue cannot be seen as having been solved," he said.
Stressing that concrete proposals offered by Turkish Cypriots to resolve the crisis are still on the table, Eroglu said that negotiators from both sides would meet on Friday to plan a step-by-step process.
A resolution can only be reached at the negotiation table, not through a joint declaration, Eroglu reiterated.
Saying that the negotiation would be determined at a scheduled meeting on Friday, the negotiators would meet more frequently than the two leaders, Eroglu added that a final decision would be made by the leaders according to the joint declaration. Any agreement reached between the two parties could be submitted for a referendum.
"The goal is to reach a permanent, sustainable agreement," Eroglu said.
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