October 18, 2018

Secretary-General’s press encounter after meeting with Cypriot leaders

SG: Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you very much for your patience.

I would like to thank both leaders, His Excellency Mr. Christofias and His Excellency Mr. Eroglu, for coming to New York for today’s meetings. I appreciate their commitment. We have just had a constructive exchange of views on the core issues, including governance and power-sharing, economy, EU matters, property, territory and security.

When I visited the Island earlier this year, I could feel the hope and expectation among people on both sides for a settlement that would finally reunify Cyprus . Real progress was being made in the talks.

That sense of anticipation has faded, however, as talks continued throughout the remainder of the year without clear progress or a clear end in sight. That is why I invited the leaders to meet with me today. The peace talks on Cyprus were losing momentum and needed a boost if the two sides are to reach a settlement while there is still the time and the political opportunity to do so.

Only the leaders can give it that boost. The United Nations can support them, as we have been doing through the work of my Special Adviser and his team. But only the leaders can arrive at a solution.

I made it clear to both leaders that the United Nations respects these talks as a Cypriot-led process. It is precisely for that reason that we expect the Cypriot sides to assume their responsibility to drive this process toward a solution. The people of Cyprus and the international community want a solution, not endless talks.

Based on our discussions today, I believe the leaders understand this. I hope today’s meeting has helped to restore momentum to the process. Both leaders have told me they recognize the need to move more quickly and decisively in order to reach a settlement. Serious differences remain, but both leaders expressed their commitment to work together, as partners, toward that goal. I should also note that projecting positive messages is critical if any agreement is to be trusted and embraced by the respective publics in referenda.

Specifically, the leaders agreed today to intensify their contacts in the coming weeks in order to establish a practical plan for overcoming the major remaining points of disagreement. We have agreed to meet again at the end of January next year in Geneva . In the meantime, the leaders will identify further convergences and the core issues which still need to be resolved, across all chapters. That, in turn, will help the United Nations determine its own next steps.

As you know, I will be issuing a report to the Security Council later this month that provides an assessment of the state of the negotiations. I promised the leaders that the report will be frank and fair. Today’s meeting has helped to inform that report. I will remain in close touch with my Special Adviser in the days ahead.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Due to the sensitive nature of the discussions, we agreed to refrain from taking any questions at this time. I trust you will understand this. Thank you very much.