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Eide: ‘The year when Cypriots freely decide to turn the page of history’

Photo: CNA

THE peaceful reunification of the island in 2017 could offer a historic opportunity to finally turn the page of history in Cyprus, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Cyprus (SASG), Espen Barth Eide said on Friday in his New Year message.

Making peace is never an easy business, the message said, and building lasting peace means understanding the fundamental concerns of all peoples in a spirit of reconciliation, respect and recognition.

“The two communities in Cyprus are fortunate to have two such leaders, Mr. Anastasiades and Mr. Akinci, both of whom are demonstrating the political will and strategic leadership to end a conflict that has divided their common homeland for way too long,” Eide said.

As the leaders prepare for their meetings in Geneva just after New Year, the coming weeks will be crucial in securing a comprehensive solution, the message said. “The leaders have their sights set on a future where all citizens of a united Cyprus can co-exist in peace with each other and their neighbours. They recognise that the status quo is unacceptable and unstainable, and that the current talks offer the best opportunity for a solution”.

He added that this time the talks are leader-led. “Every letter, word and sentence will have been written by Cypriots themselves”, it said, while the UN remains loyal to facilitating their efforts.

“The peaceful reunification of the island next year could offer a historic opportunity to finally turn the page of history in Cyprus”.

“The island stands on the cusp of reaping real political and economic benefits not only for Cypriots, but also beyond the island across the wider region by contributing to stability and co-operation. Both sides recognise that any settlement must respect EU values and principles, ensuring that the fundamental rights and freedoms of all Cypriots are protected”.

The two leaders, Eide said, are discussing a new model fit for the 21st century that prioritises economic growth and development. “A model for sustainable growth focused on tapping the human and commercial potential of a united federal republic in Europe, directing the future, together”.

“Across the island, I am encouraged by my meetings with young and old Cypriots, civil society activists, business leaders, religious leaders and so many others who are all helping to shape the course of Cyprus’ future. Their voice in support of a solution is getting louder and demonstrates the strong desire for peace amongst Cypriots”.

As we approach the New Year, he said, “it is important to remember that it is the people who will make the final decision, once the leaders have done their job. It is a real possibility that 2017 will be the year when the Cypriots, themselves, freely decide to turn the page of history”.

He added that support from the international community remains resolute and pledged his and the UN’s commitment to facilitating both sides to reach a comprehensive agreement and to implement a solution. “Our assistance aims to ensure that implementation of a settlement is as smooth as possible and maximises peace dividends for all,” the message said.

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