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UNSG calls on Cypriot leaders to intensify efforts, tries to defuse tension (Update 3)

President Anastasiades with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

PRESIDENT Nicos Anastasiades spoke on Friday morning by phone with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who called on the two sides to intensify their efforts towards reunifying Cyprus.

The call took place in the wake of the furore over the surprise attendance at a dinner in Istanbul by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on Monday as part of the World Humanitarian Summit. Akinci also met with Ban on the sidelines, which infuriated Anastasiades.

Anastasiades had been taking part in the summit as president of the Republic of Cyprus, but left Istanbul a day early, cancelling his Friday meeting with Akinci and his Thursday meeting with UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide. He blamed the UN for ‘the mess’.

A UN statement on Friday said that with reference to recent events in Istanbul, “the Secretary General reiterated that the UN’s policy on Cyprus has not changed”.

The Republic of Cyprus was a member state of the UN and the bi-communal dialogue that takes place under UN auspices aims at reaching a settlement of the Cyprus issue was based on relevant UN Security Council resolutions, it said.

“The Secretary General expressed his full confidence in the role played by his Special Adviser, Mr. Espen Barth Eide, promoting that goal, underlining that he has the support not only of himself but also that of the Security Council, the European Union and the wider international community,” the statement said. “The Secretary-General encourages the two leaders to intensify their efforts towards reunifying Cyprus, in a climate of mutual respect, in order to bring an end to the unacceptable status quo, in the interest of all Cypriots.”

A written statement from Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides shortly afterwards said that through its statement, the UN, had confirmed the status of the RoC, and following this, the president was expressing his readiness to continue and intensify dialogue “provided that there is mutual respect between partners, and provided that there will be no similar incidents” by anyone involved in the process “that would succeed in undermining the ongoing efforts”.

“The president expresses his satisfaction with the UN Secretary General’s initiative to communicate with him today and to reiterate the firm position of the United Nations in relation to the status of Cyprus as a UN Member State,” the statement added.

Later on Friday, Anastasiades told reporters that Ban’s statement “remedies certain attempts that were made, and I hope that such attempts will not be repeated by anyone involved in the process”.

According to Christodoulides, the Cypriot president had yet another telephone conversation with US vice-president Joe Biden – following that of Wednesday – at around 9pm Friday.

Meanwhile, Akinci was quoted as saying on Friday that all processes have their ups and downs and he hoped it would be temporary.

He said he understood up to a point the “storm in the teacup” that the Greek Cypriot side caused, but he could not understand the negative reactions within his own community

“Our place as Turkish Cypriots was at that summit. We should be able to be at that summit,” he said.

He said it was not right for the leader of only one community in Cyprus to represent the whole of Cyprus, and that non-UN-members had participated in the summit in Istanbul. The ‘TRNC’ could have participated even though it was not recognised, he said.

Akinci said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had invited him to dinner as ‘President of the TRNC’ and that he accepted the invitation.

“No one except for us can decide to which invitation for dinner the president of the TRNC will reply positively, at which dinner he will attend and whether he will meet with the UNSG,” he added.

But the signals were definitely mixed later on Friday, when Akinci was quoted by Al-Jazeera that his goal in travelling to Istanbul had not been “recognition from other countries”, but to ensure a solution by 2017.

“We know that the rest of the world doesn’t recognise us,” he was quoted as saying.

“My goal in going to Istanbul was not for other countries, in addition to Turkey, to recognise us. The goal of my meeting with the UN Secretary General was to find a solution by 2017.”

The Turkish Cypriot leader said he didn’t participate in the UN summit, and did not go to Istanbul in order to take part in it.

He added that he believes the format of the talks needs to be changed.

“There must be continuous and intensive talks,” Akinci said.

“There must be periodic one-week or ten-day meetings, with a five-party summit at the end, which will address the issue of guarantees.”

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