13 January 2017
In a historic development for Cyprus and within the framework of the UN talks on the Cyprus problem, the Conference on Cyprus, addressing for the first time the issue of security and guarantees convened on 12 January 2017 at the Palace of Nations, the UN Headquarters in Geneva.
The Conference was opened by the new UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and was also attended by an EU delegation, headed by European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.
A statement issued on the evening of 12 January 2017 on behalf of the participants in the Conference, reads as follows:
"The Conference on Cyprus convened today, 12 January 2017, in Geneva, under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, with the participation of H.E. Mr. Mustafa Akinci and H.E. Mr. Nicos Anastasiades, the Foreign Ministers of Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom as guarantor powers and in the presence of the European Union as an observer.
The Conference commended Mr. Anastasiades and Mr. Akinci for the remarkable progress made over the past 20 months in the Cyprus talks. It was only thanks to their dedicated work that it was possible to convene the Conference today. This is the first time that brought all together to discuss the chapter of security and guarantees, the sixth and last chapter of the negotiations.
The discussions today underscored the participants' intention to find mutually acceptable solutions on security and guarantees that address the concerns of both communities. They recognized that the security of one community cannot come at the expense of the security of the other. They also acknowledged the need to address the traditional security concerns of the two communities while at the same time developing a security vision for a future united federal Cyprus.
The participants recognized that this is the time to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion. This is a historic opportunity that should not be missed. The participants therefore committed to supporting the process towards a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus. The common objectives outlined above will require concerted efforts by all concerned over the course of the next days.
Therefore, to this end, they decided to continue the Conference, in line with established precedent, with the following steps:
Establish a working group at the level of deputies. This group will commence its work on 18 January. Its task will be to identify specific questions and the instruments needed to address them.
In parallel, the negotiations on outstanding issues in the other chapters will continue between the two sides in Cyprus.
The Conference will continue at political level immediately thereafter to review the outcome of the working group's discussions.
The Conference confirmed the full commitment of the three guarantor powers to support reaching a comprehensive settlement."
During the interval between the two sessions of the Conference, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres made statements to the press in the presence of President Anastasiades and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, in which he paid tribute to their extraordinary statesmanship, courage and determination and also pointing out that the two leaders " for 20 months have been conducting in a very determined way a dialogue aiming at creating the conditions to allow for Cyprus to be able to be again a country united, living in normal conditions for its people. And it is only thanks to their work that it was possible to come today to the opening of the Conference that, historically and for the first time, has put around the same table, not only the two protagonists, but also the guarantors: the Republics of Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom."
Mr Guterres said that during the working lunch "it was possible to clearly come to the conclusion that we need to find instruments, instruments that allow for the implementation of the settlement that would be achieved in a way that guarantees simultaneously the response to the security concerns of the Turkish Cypriot community and the security concerns of the Greek Cypriot community."
Moreover, he highlighted that the UN "are not looking for a quick fix. We are looking for a solid and sustainable solution for the Republic of Cyprus and for the communities of the Republic of Cyprus, and we will be working as long as necessary in order to achieve that goal, with the objective naturally to reach these in the context of the present Conference."
Furthermore, the UNSG said in his statements that the UN is "very encouraged by the fact that the European Union has shown total commitment to support this process. And we are also ready in the context of the UN to make, to seize, the Security Council to guarantee, in an effective and strong way, the results that will be possible to achieve in the context of the present Conference."
Concluding and while pointing out that this process is at its starting point, Mr Guterres expressed his hope "that there will be a breakthrough, and I think that is what the people of Cyprus deserve and I think it is also what the world needs today. We are facing so many situations of disasters. We badly need a symbol of hope. I strongly believe that Cyprus can be a symbol of hope of the beginning of 2017 in the world."
The opening session of the Geneva Conference was addressed by all participants. In his own speech President Anastasiades put forward and elaborated on his proposal on the issue of security, while also clarifying that he is attending the Conference in Geneva both as the President of the Republic of Cyprus as well as as the leader of the Greek Cypriot community.
In his own intervention at the Conference on Cyprus, the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker said that this is a "historic opportunity," while he pointed out that "all Cypriots are EU citizens" and explained to his counterparts that "a United Cyprus will have to be fully integrated into the EU". Reiterating that his presence at the Conference "follows on a long standing commitment to see the island united," he also pledged that the EU will help financially towards a solution to the Cyprus problem.