NICOSIA -- There has been a gap in the talks between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot negotiators and work will be done in the coming week to bridge it, UN SG`s Special Advisor on the Cyprus issue Alexander Downer has said.
Downer, who was replying to questions after a meeting with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades at the Presidential Palace, on Friday, said that "the negotiators will continue to meet to prepare the way and I look forward to meeting with them during the course of next week as well".
He added that "I`ll host another dinner for the two representatives on Monday night and I will have a meeting with them on Monday and Wednesday, so we`ll obviously discuss how they are getting on in their discussions, but they`ve had several runs in discussions already".
Replying to a question, he acknowledged that "there has been a gap". It`s obviously, he added "the task to bridge that gap and work will be done on that during the course of next week".
Downer was also asked whether he has had a reaction on the part of Turkey on a proposal put forward by the Cyprus President on the return of the fenced off part of the ghost city of Famagusta, known as Varosha, which has remained deserted since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
"I have had discussions with the Turks and the Turkish Cypriots and others about a whole range of issues but I `m not getting into any commentary on that", was his reply.
At the same time he made it clear that the matter of natural gas has not so far been discussed.
"We haven`t been talking about natural gas; there has been no discussion about that", he said.
Asked when the UN will be ready to announce a fresh round of talks on the reunification of Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974, he made it clear that this will happen "when the preparations are complete for the negotiations".
"We want to ensure that negotiations are successful and more than we want to, the two sides want to ensure that negotiations are successful so obviously appropriate preparation has to be done," he stressed.
Replying to another question on the start of the talks, he reiterated that "we are not really planning any particular date".
“I mean there was an indication that the leaders would meet again. You might recall that the leaders met at the end of May for dinner then and their representatives have met several times in recent weeks and they will continue to meet and when it`s appropriate for the leaders to meet, the leaders will meet, when they feel comfortable that the circumstances are right for them to have a meeting", he explained.
Downer was asked to comment on President Anastasiades` position that all aspects of the Cyprus problem should be discussed during the talks but he did not wish to do so.
"We`ll leave the leaders to speak for themselves", he said, pointing out that "it`s not our job to get into a commentary about all of the things that the leaders have said".
“We have put different thoughts and ideas to the two leaders as you would expect the United Nations to do from time to time but you know ultimately this isn`t a negotiation with the United Nations this is a negotiation between the two sides, between the two leaders and their teams,” he noted.
He said the methodology of the process is important.
Asked what would be included in a joint statement between the two negotiators, he said this will depend on what they negotiate.
Dubbed a “ghost town”, Famagusta’s fenced off section - called Varosha - remains to this day deserted, abandoned to the elements. Efforts over the years for the legitimate citizens of Famagusta to return to the city have met the refusal of the Turkish side.
A new effort has been launched recently by President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades, who submitted a proposal on the return of Famagusta and the use of its port by the Turkish Cypriots for exports to EU countries.
The President believes this would help build confidence, proving that the two communities on the island could coexist peacefully in conditions of prosperity and peace. Previous UN led efforts to reunite the country have failed.
A fresh round of talks on the reunification of Cyprus under a federal roof is expected to resume later this year.