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Leaders meet at UN’s end-of-year dinner at Ledra Palace (updated)

Ο ΠτΔ και ο Τ/κ ηγέτης στη δεξίωση στο Λήδρα Πάλας
President Christodoulides, Colin Stewart and Ersin Tatar at the reception on Monday night

President Nikos Christodoulides met with Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar on Monday evening at an event a Ledra Palace hosted by the UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus (Unficyp), in what is the two leaders’ first meeting since last July.

First to arrive at the end-of-year dinner hosted by Unficyp chief Colin Stewart was Christodoulides, who arrived with his wife Philippa Karseras at 7:20pm. Tatar and his wife Sibel followed shortly after.

Stewart welcomed the two leaders, and all three took a picture together.

Speaking at the ceremony, Stewart said that the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres  is set to announce the UN envoy expected to come on the Cyprus problem.

“The secretary-general sees the appointment as crucial,” he said.

He added: “It does not signal, of course, the start of new negotiations, but it is an important step in trying to see if a path can be found for a mutually-acceptable way forward, and it will certainly increase the focus on the Cyprus issue over the coming months.”

Ambassadors and civil society members attended the event.

On the side lines of the even, Christodoulides said: “The announcement made by Mr Stewart that the UN Secretary-General will soon – hopefully this week – officially announce the appointment of an envoy in Cyprus was significant.”

He added: “We are ready on our part. We know very well what we aim for at the negotiation table; we know what our ultimate goal is, and we will do everything possible on our side to achieve this.”

When asked if the Cyprus problem was discussed during the conversation with Tatar at the reception, the president said: “Certainly, we discussed the Cyprus problem, among other things, but there was no negotiation. I reiterated to Mr Tatar my readiness, and I hope he will come to the negotiation table, to achieve what we want, which is the resumption of talks.

The common ground is there, defined by the UN resolutions, and “I hope the talks will resume as soon as possible”.

“For us, seeing what is happening in our region, there are no frozen conflicts; the status quo, over time, creates new realities. We see the problems that arise daily in the buffer zone, and we will do everything that is possible to lead us to reunification, to a solution of the Cyprus problem based on the agreed framework,” he said.

In his comments at the meeting, Tatar said that “we met a lot of new people” and that Stewart announced that “we had both accepted the appointment of a new envoy”.

At this point, Stewart intervened, who corrected him by saying that he did not announce anything, but referred to what everyone already knew.

“We hope that the envoy will be able to find out if there is common ground for a resumption of talks,” Tatar said.

The Turkish Cypriot leader wished everyone a happy new year and thanked Colin Stewart for the invitation.

“I am happy that we met many nice people here, including Christodoulides of course and his wife,” he said.

Asked if he was optimistic, he said that “obviously we have to be careful and maintain our optimism with mutual respect, it’s very important (mutual respect), it’s the key word.”

The last time the two leaders met was on July 28, when both visited the anthropological laboratory at the committee of missing persons (CMP).

Monday’s meeting is happening at a time when the UN is expected to announce the next envoy for the Cyprus problem, pegged to be former Colombian foreign minister Maria Cuellar.

Both sides have accepted the appointment of the envoy, following the Turkish Cypriot side’s rejection of the first name tabled, former Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop.

Earlier on Monday, Tatar greenlighted the appointment of Maria Angela Holguin Cuellar as the new UN envoy to Cyprus.

According to reports in the north, Tatar informed the United Nations on Sunday evening of his approval for the former foreign minister of Colombia to take on the role.

Cuellar will be tasked with investigating whether there is common ground between the two sides to enable the launch of a new negotiation process.

On Saturday, President Nikos Christodoulides said he discussed the appointment of a new envoy with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, adding that Cuellar is expected to visit the island at the start of the new year.

The call, which took place on Friday evening, saw Christodoulides convey the Greek Cypriot side’s readiness for the immediate start of Cyprus talks after the announcement of the personality selected as envoy by the UN Secretary General.

Cuellar served as foreign minister of Colombia between 2010 and 2018 and was also head of the Colombian mission to the UN and the ambassador of her country to Venezuela.

Cyprus’ government had previously consented to the appointment.

ΠτΔ – End of the Year Reception Ηνωμένων Εθνών
Ξενοδοχείο Ledra Palace, Λευκωσία, Κύπρος
Ο Πρόεδρος της Δημοκρατίας κ. Νίκος Χριστοδουλίδης παρίσταται στο End of the Year Reception των Ηνωμένων Εθνών.
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PoR – United Nations’ End of the Year Reception
Ledra Palace Hotel, Lefkosia, Cyprus
The President of the Republic, Mr Nikos Christodoulides, attends the United Nations’ End of the Year Reception.

 

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