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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Q & A by the President on his meeting with Talat

The President of the Republic took questions from reporters after his meeting yesterday with Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat:

Question: We heard a general comment by Mr. Moller following your meeting with Mr. Talat. Can you tell us something more?

Answer: First of all, let me say that the meeting took place in order to facilitate the 8 July process and not in order to start exchanging arguments though the Press, with a longer and more enlightening communiqué. This was not the purpose of the meeting. We discussed mainly, we only discussed, I would say, the 8 July process, which was the issue at hand. We insisted on its speedy and unconditional implementation because we believe it is a process than can positively push forward the talks for a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem on a new basis. And we believe that our suggestions would have shortened the time needed leading to substantive talks and to the solution of the Cyprus problem. We insisted a great deal that the Committees should seriously prepare the ground and, according to the Gambari process, if progress is achieved at the level of the Committees, the leaders of the two communities will meet periodically to negotiate the points of dissent which the Committees will point out. Mr. Talat wanted changes to be made to the Gambari process. He wanted immediate talks without the work of the Committees or he wanted the role of the Committees to be restricted only to a technical level of noting down the topics to be discussed. This could not have accelerated the process but, on the contrary, it would accelerate finalizing the fact that there is a deadlock. Nevertheless, the meeting took place in a constructive spirit. We shall continue the contacts through the United Nations to find a way to overcome the present difficulty. Mr. Talat also raised, of course, the usual issues they raise, not as part of the agenda but during the discussion.

Question: The procedure will continue the same way as before, with Mr. Tzionis and Mr. Perter, or is there a change?

Answer: First, there will be contacts through the United Nations. We insisted this was the correct procedure, not outside the United Nations framework, and we believe that the proposal we made is both practical and effective. It is not easy for the two leaders to meet on a daily basis, within a specific period of one or two months. One has to evaluate, however, whether this procedure alone could yield positive results or, reversely, whether it would lead to finalizing the fact that there is a deadlock.

Question: How do you address the fact that there is no time table for the beginning of the talks?

Answer: I don’t think that the talks should be defined in terms of dates. They will be defined in terns of the progress that will take place. In other words, if you set a date, in a month's time let's say, the point is that there must be adequate preparation beforehand in order to make sure that a substantive discussion can take place between the two leaders. And that was the point on which we insisted. On our part we don’t talk about discussions which will be extended indefinitely or in the depth of time. Simply, the course of the discussions itself determines the time framework. Since the two leaders will be meeting to supervise the work of the Committees, to give instructions, to negotiate the points of dissent pointed out by the Committees, this can be done in a month, in 15 days, in two or three months, depending on the pace of the work of the Committees. It is, in addition, an incentive for those who will participate in the Committees to really produce work in a positive spirit, to point out points in dissent, perhaps to submit alternative suggestions, so that the two leaders can have a political discussion.

Question: Is there a risk that the other side will bide for time?

Answer: There is always this risk. In other words, if you set the 15th of September, for example, as the starting date for the talks, won’t the risk still be there? Is there any assurance that the two leaders, meeting on their own, will reach an agreement?

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