Throughout its presence in Cyprus the United Nations has provided its assistance to the two main communities in their attempts to bridge their differences. Today, the United Nations is once again facilitating efforts to reach a mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus problem.
The Organization has stepped up its engagement in Cyprus as a result of positive movement on the ground. On 21 March 2008, the then newly elected President of the Republic of Cyprus, and leader of the Greek Cypriot community, Demetris Christofias, and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed to restart full-fledged negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary-General. Hailing the commitment of the two leaders to put an end to the long-running conflict on the island, the Secretary-General pledged his full support to the peace process and revived his good offices mission in Cyprus.
Mr. Alexander Downer served as SASG from 2008 to 2013 and Mr. Espen Barth Eide from 2013 to 2017.
Currently, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNFICYP, Elizabeth Spehar who is the Deputy Special Adviser to Secretary-General, is also in charge of the Good Offices Mission, pending the appointment of a new SASG.
The direct talks started on 3 September 2008, with the leaders working towards agreement on the establishment of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in which the communities would enjoy political equality.