By UNDP Newsroom

The United Nations-backed efforts to reunify the island of Cyprus and the ongoing dispute over the name of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have topped the agenda during talks between Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.

Mr. Ban and Mr. Papandreou met yesterday at UN Headquarters in New York and also discussed recent developments in the Middle East, the global financial crisis and efforts to achieve the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), according to information released by the Secretary-General's office.

During the discussions Mr. Ban stressed to Mr. Papandreou that the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, Demetris Christofias and Dervis Eroglu, need to grasp the current political window of opportunity to take the process of the reunification talks forward.

He also underscored the importance of Greece's continuing support for the UN-backed negotiations, which began in 2008 after the then leaders of the two communities committed themselves to working towards “a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality, as defined by relevant Security Council resolutions.”

That federation would comprise a federal government with a single international personality, along with a Turkish Cypriot constituent state and a Greek Cypriot constituent state, which would be of equal status.

Turning to the name dispute between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Ban said he welcomed the commitment reaffirmed by Mr. Papandreou to find a solution to the long-running problem.

The UN envoy Matthew Nimetz is tasked with mediating the talks between Athens and Skopje on this issue, and the Secretary-General yesterday stressed the UN's readiness to continue to support the negotiations process.

Accra / Ghana/ Africa /