Cyprus UNbacked technical committees begin work seeking reunification

18 April 2008Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot working groups today launched sessions designed to pave the way for full-fledged negotiations under United Nations auspices on a comprehensive and durable settlement for the reunification of the Mediterranean island. “As we have said before, the United Nations will do all that it can to help the two sides in their search for a sustainable and mutually acceptable solution,” Special Representative of the Secretary-General Elizabeth Spehar told a news conference in Nicosia before the heads of the six working groups and seven technical committees began their meetings.“We hope that concrete results can be achieved through this process over the coming weeks, that will provide a solid basis for the two leaders [Dimitris Christofias and Mehmet Ali Talat] to move forward and which will encourage the UN Secretary-General to appoint a Special Envoy to accompany and support the leaders in their negotiations,” she added as she presided over the launch.Yesterday, the Security Council in New York welcomed the development. The 15-member body said the recent opening of the long-closed Ledra Street crossing between the two communities in Nicosia was an indication of the political will on both sides to tackle issues that have obstructed progress in the past, and called for more confidence-building measures to be introduced.“The Security Council reaffirms its commitment to the reunification of Cyprus based on a bicommunal, bizonal federation and political equality,” it said in a presidential statement.The UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) has been in place since 1964 following the outbreak of inter-communal violence, entrusted with preventing a recurrence of fighting and contributing to a return to normal conditions and the maintenance of law and order.

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