Geneva

29 April 2021

Secretary-General's Press Conference following the informal 5+1 meeting on Cyprus

[Watch the video on webtv.un.org]

The Secretary-General: Ladies and gentlemen of the media, thank you very much for your presence.  At the moment in which we conclude the 5+1 talks on Cyprus here in Geneva, I want to express my deep gratitude and the gratitude of all participants to the Swiss authorities for all the facilities that they have provided to guarantee the smooth development of our work in the difficult times we are living in with COVID. 

As I believe you are aware, the position expressed yesterday by the Turkish Cypriots was that the many efforts made to solve the Cyprus issue over the years have failed, including the most recent attempt made in Crans Montana. 

They believe that efforts to negotiate the bi-zonal, bi-communal federation have been exhausted.  They believe the Turkish Cypriots have inherent sovereign equality and is an equal international status and the solution in their view should be based on two states cooperating with each other. 

Similarly, the position expressed yesterday by the Greek Cypriot delegation was that negotiations should resume from where they left off in Crans Montana.  They should aim to achieve a settlement based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality on the basis of relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, the Joint Declaration of 2014, the existing body of work, the six elements I presented in Crans Montana, and in line with the EU acquis.

As you can imagine, this was not an easy meeting. 

We conducted extensive consultations in a succession of bilateral meetings and plenary meetings in order to try to reach common ground.

The truth is that, in the end of our efforts, we have not yet found enough common grounds to allow for the resumption of formal negotiations in relation to the settlement of the Cyprus problem.  

But I do not give up. 

My agenda is very simple.

My agenda is strictly to fight for the security and well-being of the Cypriots, of the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots, that deserve to live in peace and prosperity together.  

And being so, we have been able to agree that I will convene in the near future another meeting of the 5+1, the five plus the United Nations, again with the objective to move in the direction of reaching common ground to allow for formal negotiations to start.  

We are determined to do everything we can to make this dialogue move on and to make this dialogue at one moment be able to reach positive results.

Question: My question, you said you are going to convene another such meeting in the near future.  What will happen in between these two meetings?  Are they going to be any meetings, any more meetings by Ms. Lute or someone else that will work with the parties in order to make sure that the next informal meeting will bear fruit and will be successful?  Thank you.

The Secretary-General: Of course, there will be consultations before the next meeting, as we had before this one, and our intention is to try to create as much as possible the conditions to allow for the next meeting to be successful. Unfortunately, today we are not able to reach the agreements that we would wish to reach but we are not going to give up and we will be doing our consultations in order to try to create the best possible environment for the next meeting.  

Question: Could you give us the timeframe as to when you expect this new round of talks to happen?  and if I could just follow up, how do you square the circle that the United Nations has generally been, in the Security Council has been in favour of a federated Cyprus, when there is a proposal that is coming that is talking for two separate States? How does the United Nations come onboard with that idea?  Thank you.

The Secretary-General: First of all, in the discussion we just finished, there was an understanding that probably two to three months should be the kind of the time framework that could be useful.  If it is too short of a period, it will not allow for any meaningful positive development.  If it is too long, then it really does not help in our common search for a solution for a settlement.  

Now, to square the circle is an impossibility in geometry but it is very common in politics.  

And our position is very clear.  As Secretary-General I have a mandate, and that mandate is given by the Security Council, and so far on negotiations, I have to conduct based on a mandate I received.  But in an informal meeting, and this informal meeting was convened without preconditions in any formal meeting, it is, I would say, useful that all delegations are able to express their positions and that would allow us naturally to interact with each other.  And I will obviously also report to the Security Council on the different positions expressed in this meeting.

Question: Thank you.  As one of the parties seems to contest the mandate by itself by speaking of the two-States solution, would it be time for your Security Council to convene again, to either reinforce the mandate or to raise again the question of, on whether the mandate should be should be amended or changed?
Thank you.

The Secretary-General: That is a question that you should ask the Security Council.  And by the way, the “pen holder” in relation to the Cyprus dossier in the Security Council is one of the delegations that participated in these talks.

END