United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Larnaca, Cyprus, in the early evening of Sunday, 31 January.
In his opening statement to the press upon arrival, Mr. Ban said that he was confident that a solution to the Cyprus problem “is possible and within reach”. (See Press Release SG/SM/12729)
He said that he had come to encourage the two leaders to bring talks to a successful conclusion, and commended the leadership which Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat had demonstrated “at this key moment”. Noting that significant progress had been achieved on governance and power-sharing, the Secretary-General said that reaching a mutually acceptable solution would require courage, flexibility and vision, as well as a spirit of compromise.
That evening, the Secretary-General and his delegation attended a dinner hosted by President Dimitris Christofias at the Presidential Palace. In a toast, the Secretary-General said he was impressed by the enormous personal commitment which Mr. Christofias had shown to finding a settlement to the longstanding problem. (See Press Release SG/SM/12730)
The Secretary-General said the world saw two leaders who were rising to the challenge. And he added that he was encouraged that the two leaders personally assured him of their shared commitment to a comprehensive solution as early as possible.
On Monday morning, the Secretary-General met with the United Nations country team in Cyprus and with United Nations staff working on the island. Mid-morning he visited the Ledra Street crossing and the buffer zone, and attended an inauguration ceremony for the Ledra-Lokmaci Street stabilization work. In brief remarks, Mr. Ban shared a personal reflection that, as a citizen of the Republic of Korea, coming from a nation which is still divided between south and north, he shares with the people of Cyprus “the very sad reality, the emptiness and destruction and such very painful feelings”.
On Monday, the Secretary-General met separately with both leaders. He met first with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. Afterwards, at a luncheon, the Secretary-General toasted his host, saying that the United Nations was doing all it can to support the Cypriot-owned and Cypriot-led process. He praised Mr Talat’s enormous personal commitment to find a solution. He said a settlement of the Cyprus problem would create enormous opportunities for the Turkish Cypriots, for the wider region and for the whole world. (See Press Release SG/SM/12733)
The Secretary-General then met with Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias.
Later, at the residence of the head of mission of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), he met with both leaders in the context of the talks. Mr. Ban made brief remarks at a press conference, and read out a joint statement on behalf of the two leaders, who then answered some questions. (See Press Release SG/SM/12732)
That evening, the three also attended a reception at Ledra Palace which was attended by civil society, political party leaders and members of the diplomatic community. They later attended a working dinner, again at the residence of the UNFICYP head of mission.
The Secretary-General departed Cyprus early on Tuesday morning to New York, via Amsterdam.