UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that he was "cautiously optimistic" that a solution could be achieved on Cyprus question underlining that the parties recorded "a solid progress" at ongoing talks between the two Cypriot leaders. The Secretary General, in a report on his mission of the good offices in Cyprus, briefed the developments in Cyprus between May 10 and November 25, 2009 and the ongoing negotiation process.

Ban Ki-moon in his report said, "as the negotiations have moved into their second phase, the momentum needs to be maintained or even accelerated. The coming weeks and months will be decisive, as important decisions will have to be made. "

UN Secretary General said his Cyprus Special Adviser Alexander Downer met foreign ministers of China, Greece, Turkey and Britain as well as deputy foreign minister of Russia, noting all of them supported peace process in Cyprus.

Secretary General said he talked to both Cypriot leaders in Cyprus, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and that all the leaders expressed willingness for the solution of the Cyprus question rapidly.

As to the "Confidence Building Measures", Ban Ki-moon said, "the four technical committees that are still functioning are meeting regularly and have made steady progress."

He said, "one of the concrete agreements on confidence-building measures reached by the leaders since my previous report has been the decision taken on 26 June 2009, following extended negotiations, to open a seventh crossing point between the communities and through the buffer zone to the north-west of the island, linking the villages of (Limnitis/Yesilirmak)."

In the "Observations" section of the report, Secretary General said, " I am encouraged by the commitment, courage and determination shown by the two leaders despite the considerable challenges posed by the negotiations and the ongoing domestic criticism in the north and the south directed at the leaders and the process. It is important that both parties create a favourable environment and conditions conducive to the continued progress of the talks. In this regard, active participation and engagement on the part of civil society in the effort to achieve a solution and in its implementation will be crucial. Furthermore, the parties will have to be prepared to explain to the people in the clearest terms the benefits of a solution so that they can make an informed decision regarding the peace agreement."

Eulogizing the two cypriot leaders over the progress recorded so far, Ban Ki-moon said, "It is encouraging to note that the leaders are focusing on the areas of divergence in the current round in order to narrow the gaps between their positions, and that they are actively producing bridging proposals. Those proposals have focused on the more controversial issues and have helped to bring the two positions closer together. Ultimately, the two sides must continue to demonstrate flexibility so as to accommodate each other?s concerns, as no solution can be perfect for either side. At the same time, the process of negotiation should not be seen as a "zero-sum game", since both sides will gain in a united Cyprus.

Secretary General said, "My overall assessment is that the parties are making solid progress, and I am cautiously optimistic that a solution can be achieved. On the basis of what has been accomplished so far, the international community expects the talks to continue to make substantial progress in a timely fashion. The broad outline and established parameters of a solution are well known and already articulated by the two sides. There is a significant body of work upon which to draw, as there are already a number of joint papers that reflect their positions and that have served as the basis for discussions in the second phase. There is also a clear desire on the part of both sides to reach a settlement, as they have both asserted that the status quo is unacceptable. In addition, there is a general acknowledgement that the benefits of a solution for both sides would be huge, whereas the cost of failure could be high."

This report of the Secretary General is expected to be discussed in the Security Council on December 9.