Following a “productive” meeting today with Mustafa Akýncý, Turkish Cypriot leader, and Nicos Anastasiades, Greek Cypriot leader, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed their joint commitment to intensify efforts even further, in line with their stated desire to achieve a comprehensive settlement in 2016.
“We discussed the state of play in the ongoing negotiations to reach a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus,” Mr. Ban told reporters after his meeting with the two leaders at UN Headquarters in New York, where the General Assembly's high-level segment is under way.
The Secretary-General said he commended both leaders for their remarkable efforts to date, and for the progress achieved. Welcoming their joint commitment to press ahead with their stated desire to achieve a comprehensive settlement in 2016, the UN chief said that he encouraged them to continue to engage in the process with determination, courage and creativity.
“They informed me that they intend to further intensify their negotiations upon their return to Cyprus. I urged them to make the most of this opportunity, in order to resolve their outstanding issues, without delay, in earnest,” said Mr. Ban, adding: “[They] asked me to step up my personal engagement in the process. I stand ready to support them in whatever they may require, including on the international dimensions of the issue.”
Stating that the period ahead will be crucial for Cyprus, the Secretary-General said: “Time is of the essence. The United Nations and I will do our utmost to promote a successful outcome.”
The UN works through the good offices of the Secretary-General to assist the sides in the search for a comprehensive and mutually acceptable settlement to the Cyprus problem. The UN Department of Political Affairs provides backstopping support and guidance to the Secretary-General's Special Adviser, Espen Barth Eide, who was appointed August 2014.
Mr. Ban took the opportunity of the press conference to comment on the situation in Syria, saying that he is appalled by the military escalation in the city of Aleppo, “which is facing the most sustained and intense bombardment since the start of the Syrian conflict.”
“The use of bunker busting bombs brings the violence to new depths of barbarity. Let us remember: the fighting has forced hospitals and schools to operate in basements. These bombs are not busting bunkers; they are demolishing ordinary people looking for any last refuge of safety,” he stressed.
The Secretary-General noted that international law is clear: the systematic use of indiscriminate weapons in densely populated areas is a war crime.
He noted that the UN Security Council met in an emergency session this morning to discussing the situation. “What excuse is there for anything less than determined action to stop the mayhem? How much longer will all those with influence allow such cruelty to continue?” he said, urging all involved to work harder “for an end to the nightmare.”