Leaders to meet next month in New York

THE LEADERS of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities will be meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon on November 18 in New York, within the framework of ongoing talks to resolve the Cyprus problem, the UN announced yesterday.

It is believed that the tripartite meeting is an effort to exert some kind of pressure on the process to help resolve the property issue, which is the thorniest, by the end of the year.

A UN progress report is expected by the end of November.

Earlier this month, Ban telephoned the two leaders to voice his concern at the slow pace of the talks and urged them to make concrete progress.

“In his conversations with the leaders, the Secretary-General noted that the process has been slow in recent weeks and urged them to achieve concrete advances in the current discussions on property in order to maintain momentum in the peace process,” a UN spokesman said at the time.

Yesterday, President Demetris Christofias said he will request for the discussion to move onto territory in a bid to boost the negotiations.

“Because I see that we could be led to a possible deadlock on property, I will ask once more, and repeat with emphasis, that there is a need to move on to discussion of territory, which is directly related with the property issue,” Christofias said. “If we find common language on territory, by widening the area under Greek Cypriot administration the issue of property will be discussed more easily.”

The basic position of the Greek Cypriot side is that the legal owners of the properties in the north should have first choice – in case of a solution – to decide if they want restitution, exchange or compensation.

The Turkish Cypriot side proposes that the final decision for every property should be made by a property commission based on criteria, which, Greek Cypriots say, will essentially preclude – except in rare cases — restoration of the property rights of the lawful owners.