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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's press encounter following his meeting with Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot Leaders

Geneva, Switzerland, 7 July 2011

SG: Good afternoon,

I would once again like to thank Their Excellencies, Mr. Christofias and Mr. Eroglu, for accepting my request that they join me in Geneva today.

This has been our third meeting together. As you will recall, we met in New York in November 2010 and then again in Geneva in January of this year.

I also spoke with Mr. Christofias and Mr. Eroglu in April when we decided it was best to take a little more time to advance the negotiations towards a comprehensive settlement before we met again.

Both sides have worked steadily to take the negotiations forward since our meeting in January, but progress has been far too slow.

Some important areas have remained untouched. For this reason, today's meeting has been useful and productive.

We have identified some of the difficulties that are standing in the way of reaching a comprehensive agreement, and we have discussed the need to significantly intensify the negotiations.

I have also raised with both the leaders the importance of looking ahead at the objective rather than focusing on the problem in minute detail.

The atmosphere today was quite positive. I was impressed with the commitment of both sides to agree on the details to create a united Cyprus.

Both leaders have made it clear that they are aiming to reach a comprehensive solution as soon as possible.

I stated to Mr. Christofias and Mr. Eroglu that while I agreed that the negotiations must be Cypriot-led and Cypriot-owned, I was prepared to offer an enhanced United Nations involvement, without prejudice to this central principle.

I am happy to report that both leaders have accepted my offer.

I also took the opportunity to remind both leaders of the parameters of the agreement that we are striving to reach as set out in relevant Security Council Resolutions.

The leaders have agreed to enter into an intensive period of negotiations on the core issues when they return to the island.

They will focus on finding a way through the difficult core issues.

I have every expectation that by October the leaders will be able to report that they have reached convergence on all core issues, and we will meet that month in New York.

This will take the Cyprus negotiations close to their conclusion and would allow me to give a positive report to the Security Council on the matter.

It would also pave the way for me to work with the parties towards convening a final, international conference.

I am also pleased to report that the leaders have agreed that they must begin to build support for a comprehensive agreement.

On both sides the public has become weary. Both leaders must renew hope and enthusiasm for a solution.

They have acknowledged the need to begin to prepare their respective communities for the compromises required for a settlement and the prospect of living together in a united Cyprus.

Thank you.


Off-the-Cuff on 7 July 2011