posted on WED 25 JAN 2012 12:59 PM
Special Adviser Downer to Brief on Cyprus

The Council is scheduled to hold informal consultations this afternoon (25 January) on Cyprus. The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer, is set to brief and update members on developments at the “Greentree II” talks, which concluded yesterday. (This was the fifth round of UN-sponsored negotiations between the two sides since November 2010 and was hosted by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.)

The Secretary-General held a press conference alongside the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities this morning. He reiterated that the two sides had come to the talks to resolve three main challenges: the election of the executive (issues relating to the presidency of a federal Cyprus), property and citizenship.

Despite the discussions being “robust and intensive”, the Secretary-General said that limited progress had been achieved. He reiterated that the UN’s role was to support the leaders’ work to develop a comprehensive settlement and not to impose solutions upon the sides. He emphasised that the process is “Cypriot-owned and Cypriot-led”.

During this afternoon’s briefing, Council members are likely to be interested in hearing about next steps. It seems that a number of members are frustrated by the lack of progress in the recent high-level meetings and might be interested in hearing from Downer as to what other options could be pursued. There is also an increasing sense of urgency to reach a final settlement before Cyprus assumes the presidency of the Council of the EU on 1 July.

The Security Council is due to receive a report in February on the status of negotiations and at the end of March the Secretary-General has said he will ask Downer for a review of the process. If the report is positive, following consultations with both sides, the Secretary-General has indicated that he intends to go ahead with a multilateral conference in late April or early May. Such a conference is seen as leading to a final settlement of the Cyprus question once internal aspects of the dispute have been resolved.