Ban urges Cypriot leaders to make extra push towards a settlement

“As a Korean, I know only too well the pain of a land divided. I also know how difficult reconciliation can be,” Mr. Ban wrote in an opinion column published in the Khaleej Times on Saturday following his recent visit to the island. “That is why I went to Cyprus – to show my personal support for the efforts to reunify the island, and to push for further progress.” The Secretary-General reiterated that Cyprus is at a critical juncture. Although both the Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mehmet Ali Talat are working hard to reach an agreement, “it will elude them without a further concentrated push.” He observed that there are sceptics, critics and those who seek to divert or derail the process in pursuit of their own interests and agendas, and that courage and conviction will be required of leaders to do what they know to be right.“I had lengthy discussions with both leaders – individually and together – and told them that the destiny of Cyprus is entirely in their hands. I believe that a solution is within reach,” Mr. Ban concluded, adding that “building on this momentum is vital.”He noted that there is a strong, shared commitment between Mr. Christofias and Mr. Talat, who have met almost 70 times over the past 16 months, including for two weeks of intensive talks. The pair have chosen to continue talks rather than pause ahead of the elections in the north in April. Negotiators have found common ground, the Secretary-General said, highlighting progress already made on crucial issues such as governance and power-sharing. Furthermore, the two key regional actors of Turkey and Greece support the current talks and are willing to help find a solution.The Secretary-General added that the United Nations is in Cyprus to help however it can, and that negotiations are facilitated by Alexander Downer, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Cyprus.“A settlement would also send a message to the world that disputes as long-standing and complex as that in Cyprus can be resolved peacefully,” the Secretary-General wrote. 16 February 2010The people of both communities in Cyprus want a solution now that will stop the division on the Mediterranean island, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says, urging Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders to reach a settlement to end the decades of separation.

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