Near-verbatim transcript of the press point on the Conference on Cyprus by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres

30 Jun 2017

Near-verbatim transcript of the press point on the Conference on Cyprus by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres

CRANS-MONTANA, 30 June 2017 - The Secretary-General: I am glad to be here in Crans-Montana to chair the Conference on Cyprus today. And I want to thank His Excellency Mr. Nicos Anastasiades, the Greek Cypriot leader, and His Excellency Mr. Mustafa Akinci, the Turkish Cypriot leader, as well as the three guarantor powers, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom for their determination and commitment to the process. And I also thank the European Union which is attending as an observer for its ongoing support.

The reconvening of this Conference offers an historic opportunity to reach a comprehensive settlement to the conflict that has divided Cyprus for too many decades. The road back to Switzerland has not been easy but the path to lasting peace never is. To get to this point, the leaders have overcome significant challenges and making unprecedented progress and I salute the determination and common vision which has led them here. I firmly believe that through determination and political will, it will be possible to clear this final hurdle and reach a comprehensive settlement.

The Conference on Cyprus has been ongoing for the past two days. All participants have declared that they are here to find a solution. They have also demonstrated an awareness of this historic opportunity and the responsibility they share for a successful outcome. And I call on the leaders and other participants in the Conference to heed the call for peace of thousands of Cypriots at rallies on the island this week. The voices in support of a solution are indeed getting louder.

At the same time, there is no doubt that some sensitive and difficult issues remain to be resolved. The security and guarantees chapter is of crucial importance for a comprehensive solution. Discussions over the past few days have again shown that there is a commitment to find mutually acceptable solutions on security and guarantees that address the concerns of both communities. But it is clear that the security of one community cannot come at the expense of the other.

And I urge all parties to continue in this area as in all the others to engage in these critical negotiations with the same constructive and creative spirit that they have displayed so far, taking the bold decisions that are still needed to find common ground. Those gathered here today, the leaders, the communities in Cyprus, the guarantor powers, have a responsibility to grasp the opportunity for peace and to bring a comprehensive settlement home to Cyprus. But there is still a lot of work to be done.

Thank you.

Q: We are hearing reports of progress today after yesterday’s tie-up. Is there any substance to these reports, and maybe find out on which subjects exactly there is progress.

The Secretary-General: We had two sessions, one session at the Conference in the morning on security and guarantees and indeed there were some new positions showing increased flexibility in some aspects; but still, I would say the most important things are to be done. And we had the second table on the other chapters at lunchtime in which I think we have made important progress in bringing closer the positions of the parties in relation to the outstanding issues of the other chapters, the chapters that are discussed only by the two communities. But it is slow progress, and many outstanding issues are still to be resolved.

Q: You talked earlier about Cyprus becoming a normal State. How do you define that? Does that include the presence of Turkish troops on the island? Thank you.

The Secretary-General: All those participating in this Conference have said that they hoped that Cyprus one day would be able to become a fully normal State. Where there are differences is of course in the amount of time needed for that, and the conditions for that to take place. So this is exactly one of the areas where we still have not an agreement.

Q: These talks have been described as the best chance for peace in Cyprus. If the leaders failed the grasp this chance, how many more resources is the UN willing to plough into Cyprus, both in terms of mediation and in terms of peacekeepers on the island?

The Secretary-General: The essential question is related to the will of the parties, no? The UN is here to support the parties, and the UN is not tired. We support the parties and we want the parties to come to a positive result. And we are not impatient. What we want is the result to be positive and sustainable. We don’t want a false agreement that would not last. So, I can guarantee that from our side, we are not impatient and we are not threatening the parties in any way. On the contrary, we are here with humility, but with determination to help find a solution, knowing that solution is very, very difficult to find. And, of course, we are not thinking about any proposal to the Security Council in relation to peace operations.

Q: If this is the best chance, if there would be no solution, when is your deadline for the solution for Cyprus?

The Secretary-General: If we would put a deadline, we would help create the conditions for the problem not to be solved. It is to the parties that corresponds the decision about whether or not if there is no solution, they want to go on engaging in a serious negotiation. The role of the UN is of supporting the parties to find a solution. It’s not to present ultimata to the parties.

Thank you very much.