The UN Secretary-General held “focused and frank” informal talks with the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities on Monday in order to “take stock of efforts” to finally reach a settlement over the divided Mediterranean island.
António Guterres released a statement after meeting Greek Cypriot leader, Nicos Anastasiades, and the leader of the Turkish Cypriots, Mr Mustafa Akıncı, in the German capital, Berlin.
“Both leaders welcomed my engagement and reaffirmed to me their commitment and determination to achieve a settlement based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality as set out in the relevant Security Council resolutions, including OP4 of UN Security Council Resolution 716”.
The UN Mission in Cyprus, UNFICYP, was established in 1964 to prevent conflict between the two communities, and in the absence of a political settlement, it continues to maintain ceasefire lines and a buffer zone. Peacekeepers are working towards a future where the whole island can reunite, in a safe and secure environment.
Mr. Guterres said he believes the two leaders are “motivated by a sense of urgency” and had agreed “that achieving a comprehensive and durable settlement to the Cyprus problem within a foreseeable horizon is of utmost importance to the future well-being of both communities and that the status quo is unsustainable.”
The Greek Cypriot leader and the Turkish Cypriot leader affirmed their commitment to the Joint Declaration of 11 February 2014, and “the six point framework I presented on 30 June 2017 with a view to achieve a strategic agreement paving the way forward for a comprehensive settlement”.
The two leaders agreed in August following a meeting with the UNFICYP head, Elizabeth Spehar, to meet the UN chief in due course, in order to “plan the way forward” on reopening substantive talks towards a deal.
Mr. Guterres said that in view of these discussions, “I have agreed to extend my efforts to achieve terms of reference to serve as a consensus starting point for phased, meaningful, and results-oriented negotiations at the earliest feasible opportunity. In this regard, I committed to explore with the Turkish Cypriot leader and the Greek Cypriot leader and with the Guarantor powers, the possibility to convene an informal five-plus-UN meeting at an appropriate stage.”
In July 2017, despite hopes being high of a possible breakthrough between the Greek and Turkish leaders, the UN chief said he was “deeply sorry” to report that despite a strong level of engagement, the two sides could not reach an agreement. In his statement on Monday, Mr. Guterres said both now “acknowledged that this time must be different.”