Skip to main content

Top UN official meets Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders to assess conflict

Top UN official meets Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders to assess conflict

Ibrahim Gambari
The top United Nations political officer conferred with the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders in separate meetings in Cyprus today as part of a mission to study the chances of renewing discussions to settle the decades-old inter-communal conflict on the Mediterranean island.

“This will certainly help me in preparing my report to the Secretary-General upon return to New York with a set of recommendation on how best to move the process forward with the aim of possible re-launching of political discussions aimed at a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari told reporters after the meetings.

The talks with H.E. Tassos Papadopoulos, the Greek Cypriot leader, and H.E. Mehmet Ali Talat, the Turkish Cypriot leader, form the third stage of Mr. Gambari’s mission, which has also taken him to Ankara and Athens for talks with the Turkish and Greek foreign ministers.

Secretary-General Annan had led earlier talks seeking a comprehensive settlement but these failed in April 2004 when 65 per cent of Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of the plan but 76 per cent of Greek Cypriots voted against it.

Since Mr. Gambari’s mission is an assessment visit, he has not, contrary to some press reports, expressed any conclusions about the prospects for a resumption of talks and is listening to all sides in preparation for his report to Mr. Annan.

He has follow-up meetings planned with each of the two leaders beginning tomorrow and will leave Cyprus on Sunday.

The UN has been involved in the island since March 1964 when the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) was established with a mandate to prevent a recurrence of fighting, contribute to the maintenance and restoration of law and order, and contribute to a return to normal conditions.

Currently the fourth-oldest UN peacekeeping operation in the world, it seeks to maintain stability in the 180-kilometre-long Buffer Zone and ensure that there is no alteration of the status quo along the two ceasefire lines drawn in 1974 after renewed fighting.