Prospects for Successful Cyprus Talks as Good as Ever, says UNSG Special Representative in Cyprus Taye Brook Zerihoun
Nicosia, Feb 13 - The road ahead for a solution of the Cyprus problem is fraught with uncertainty and hard choices, but the determination and good will of the leaders of the two communities and their supporters have made the prospects of success for this reinvigorated peace process as good as ever, the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus Taye Brook Zerihoun has said.
Speaking on Thursday at the Winter Medal Parade of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), Mr. Zerihoun said there has been “marked progress” since last year in efforts to bring about the peaceful reunification of the island, noting that “efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement entered a new phase in the early spring of last year.”
“After months of preparations, Mr. Christofias and Mr. Talat initiated on the 3rd of September last year formal negotiations towards a comprehensive agreement on the basis of a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality. Although these principles have for years constituted the agreed formula for peace talks on Cyprus, it took vision, political courage and commitment on the part of the two leaders to finally sit down and start charting a path leading to a future reunited and peaceful Cyprus,” he said.
Mr. Zerihoun pointed out that “since then, the talks have gathered momentum and made good progress” and that “the leaders have been discussing since February 4th some of the finer points of the property issue.”
“To be sure, the road ahead is fraught with uncertainty and hard choices. But the determination and good will of the two leaders and their supporters have made the prospects of success for this reinvigorated peace process as good as ever,” he said.
He added that “as much progress as there has been, much more remains to be done, in fact the most contentious and emotive issues are yet to be agreed on.”
“It is perhaps on those issues the two sides will be faced with the inevitable trade-offs and historic compromises they will need to make in order to reach a settlement. Tough as these choices and decisions will be, it is essential to keep in mind that the peace process is not a zero-sum game, one side’s gain is not necessarily the other side’s loss,” he said.
Mr. Zerihoun pointed out that “a just settlement will help unshackle the tremendous potential and capacity of this beautiful island and make it a stronger and more prosperous home for all its citizens,” adding that “there is indeed good reason to strive for the larger good, to look beyond the past, to the common and promising future that awaits all Cypriots, Greek and Turkish Cypriots alike.”
“As the parties pursue the peace process, they can count on the continued support and assistance of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has consistently underscored that the role of the UN is to assist and facilitate this Cypriot-owned process not least because he is convinced that the peace agreement that succeeds is the one negotiated and agreed to by parties to a conflict themselves,” he said.
Referring to the last report of the UN chief to the Security Council, Mr. Zerihoun said Ban Ki-Moon “stressed that UNFICYP continues to play a vital role on the island, both as a stabilizing factor on the ground and as a source of critical support for his good offices mission.”
“That, in the first instance, is a tribute to our peacekeepers and to all the men and women of UNFICYP who continue to show admirable dedication and vigilance in effectively implementing the UN mandate in Cyprus - the peacekeeping as well as the good offices,” he concluded.