1 February 2010

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Hailing Cyprus Leaders’ Commitment, Secretary-General Says Time Is Ripe to Push

Ahead with Determination for Successful Resolution of Decades-Old Problem

Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s statement at a press conference with Cypriot leaders Dimitris Christofias and Mehmet Ali Talat, including a joint statement which he read on their behalf, in Cyprus today, 1 February:

I am pleased to be joined by His Excellency Mr. Christofias and His Excellency Mr. Talat.  I want to pay tribute to them both for their strong commitment and resolve.

As you know, I have come to Cyprus to show my personal support to the Cypriot-led and Cypriot–owned process to reunify the island.  And I wanted to be here now because I recognize how important it is to continue to build momentum on what the leaders have achieved up to now.

This has been a productive and constructive day.  I have said that the world is watching.  Today the world is seeing two leaders who are rising to the challenge.  Cyprus needs commitment, vision and flexibility.  That is what I have sensed here today -- two leaders striving to forge a better future for the people.

I am encouraged that the two leaders personally assured me of their shared commitment to a comprehensive solution as early as possible.  We will need even more courage and determination in the period ahead to bring these talks to a successful conclusion.

No one is under the illusion that any of this is easy.  Peace negotiations never are.  But the time is ripe to push ahead.  I am convinced that these two leaders can achieve a mutually beneficial solution.

For decades, the world has heard about the Cyprus problem.  Now is the time for the Cyprus solution.  The United Nations will continue to provide all the support we can.  But this is a process that is by the people of Cyprus, and for the people of Cyprus.

I carry the world’s support for Cyprus in my heart.  But the future of Cyprus is in your hands.

Ladies and Gentlemen, after intensive negotiations, the two leaders have asked me to read the following statement on their behalf:

“We, as the two leaders, express our gratitude for the visit of the United Nations Secretary-General to Cyprus, which demonstrates the continued interest of the United Nations and the international community for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem under the Secretary-General’s good offices mission.

Taking this opportunity, we express our appreciation to the Secretary-General for his good offices mission, as approved by the Security Council, and for the efforts aimed at finding a mutually agreed solution.

Working groups comprising Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have devoted time and effort to thoroughly discuss all aspects of the Cyprus problem.

We ourselves, together with our advisers and our teams, have been working diligently for more than a year on all chapters of the Cyprus problem.  We have worked on the basis of the integrated whole approach that is “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.  Good convergence has already been achieved in some chapters.  For the rest, we are determined to work hard to achieve the desired progress.

Over the last three weeks we have worked hard during our intensified negotiations, mainly on the chapter of governance and power-sharing, and achieved important progress.

We express our strong commitment to continue to work on this and the rest of the chapters.  We express our confidence that with good will and determination, we can achieve a solution in the shortest possible time.

It is our common conviction that the Cyprus problem has remained unresolved for too long.  We are also aware that time is not on the side of settlement.  There is an important opportunity now to find a solution to the Cyprus problem which would take into full consideration the legitimate rights and concerns of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.  We are aware that such a settlement is in the interest of all and that it will finally bring peace, stability and prosperity to our common home, Cyprus.”

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For information media • not an official record