The international community is not looking for “a quick fix” for Cyprus, but rather for a solid solution that can withstand the test of time, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday.
Speaking in Geneva at a press conference during a recess, the UN chief said “it is my hope that there will be a breakthrough” that the people of Cyprus deserve and the world needs.
The UN-supported conference on Cyprus features the island’s two leaders as well as the guarantor powers – Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom for the first time.
The first day of the conference opened with a morning session, followed by a working lunch. An evening session was scheduled to begin shortly after 7pm Cyprus time.
“We are facing so many situations of disasters. We badly need a symbol of hope. I strongly believe Cyprus can be the symbol of hope at the beginning of 2017,” Guterres added.
The UN chief paid tribute to the statesmanship displayed by Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci for about 20 months of negotiations toward a united Cyprus.
“Those who deserve an Oscar for best actor…are on my right and left side,” he remarked, referring to Anastasiades and Akinci who were flanking him.
The Secretary General described the opening session of Thursday’s talks as “extremely constructive” but said “we are not here for a quick fix,” rather for “a solid and sustainable solution.”
In that regard, the conference would continue for “the amount of time necessary,” he added, stressing the need for an instrument that addresses the security concerns of both communities.
Asked by the Cyprus News Agency correspondent if he believes there will be a breakthrough in Geneva as regards security and guarantees or if this just a starting point, Guterres said that this was the starting point, “the first time in which the five parties discussed security and guarantees, we just started.”
He UNSG described the opening session of the conference as “extremely constructive.”
The morning session was followed by a “very open debate during lunch time,” he added.
“We are working hard to have a settlement that addresses the central questions that have been discussed for a long time in relation to territory, in relation to property, in relation to the EU (European Union), in relation to foreign policy, and in relation to all the aspects,” Guterres said.
“Enormous progress was made in all those dossiers.”
“We are here to work seriously for a solution,” he stressed, noting that hard work was being done to hammer out an accord covering all aspects of a Cyprus settlement.
“We are convinced that there is a way to get there,” Guterres said, adding that this would not be an agreement among leaders, but an agreement by people through the referenda that will follow.
Asked whether the conference might be extended, the UNSG replied that the participation of other personalities might be justified “when and if we develop our work in a way to justify it.”