Presidents agree to speed up Cyprus negotiations

US Vice President Joe Biden, Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu and Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, met for dinner last night at the Chateau Status restaurant in the UN buffer zone. Also present at the dinner were Greek Cypriot negotiator, Andreas Mavroyiannis, Turkish Cypriot negotiator Kudret Özersay, and UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Lisa Buttenheim, ‘Kibris Postasi’ reported.

In his statements to the Press following the dinner, the US Vice President, accompanied by the two leaders, said: “I want to thank my hosts for the incredible hospitality there has been shown to me in my private meetings with the leaders as well as in our joint meetings, and I want to thank them for joining me tonight”.

He added that they had had very productive discussions, following the meetings he had with each leader separately earlier in the day, noting that the fact that they are “in the heart of the beautiful ancient city but also in the buffer zone that separates one Cypriot community from the other, reminds us that things were not always as they are now and do not have to remain the way they are now. A better path is open. And I am pleased that the two leaders have reaffirmed their full commitment in the Joint Declaration of February 11.

The two leaders have agreed to speed up the process of negotiations toward a comprehensive settlement, which is their priority”.

Biden said that both presidents had agreed to meet at least twice a month to this end. Their next meeting will be on 2nd June. Both presidents also agreed to step up their efforts to prepare meaningful Confidence Building Measures as envisioned in the joint declaration. They also agree to revitalise the bi-communal technical committees to improve the daily lives of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Both leaders also agreed to jointly call upon all those who have any information on missing persons to share that information with the committee on missing persons, in order to assist the committee in its work. They agreed that additional recourses should be provided for the work of the committee

For our part the United States will engage with all stakeholders to explore mutually beneficial initiatives to reinforce settlement negotiations and let me thank my colleagues again and I am looking forward to seeing them again,” he added.

After making these comments, the two Cypriot presidents left and the US Vice-President made the following farewell statement:

“I’ve been engaged in negotiations around the world, in many difficult conflicts, but I must tell you I have been truly impressed by the cordiality and ease with which both leaders speak to one another and negotiate with one another

Tonight I’ve heard both leaders confirm a common objective: The reunification of Cyprus as a bi-zonal bi-communal federation. I’ve heard common ground on certain aspects of these negotiations. I’ve also heard differences, but I do not believe that these are irreconcilable differences. There is clearly a lot of work to be done. But what I am hearing gives me hope that a solution is within reach this time.

The United States encourages the leaders to discuss the package on Varosha and Famagusta. If the two sides were to agree on this, the United States would stand ready to assist on the implementation. The United States is also hoping to see quick and substantial progress on a number of core issues which would allow the sides to enter the final phase of UN-led negotiations. But, ultimately, the solution cannot come from the outside. It cannot come from the United States or anywhere else. It has to come from the leaders of the two communities and from the compelling voices of the civil society leaders I heard from earlier today.

People have asked me: ‘What’s in this for the United States?’ I tell you: President Obama and I believe that Cyprus is a key partner in a challenging region. And we know it can be even a stronger partner if the next generation of Cypriots can grow up without the burden of conflict. That would expand people’s horizons to dream of something much bigger. It would unlock their talents and liberate them to do remarkable things. Cyprus can be a growing force for peace, prosperity and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean. And that would benefit the world. That would benefit us all.

There will always be doubters. But I heard tonight from two leaders committed to proving them wrong. The great Irish poet who recently passed away, Seamus Heaney, once wrote in a poem ironically called “The cure at Troy”, he had a stanza in that poem that reads as follows: History teaches us, he said, not to hope on this side of the grave. But once in a lifetime the longed-for tidal wave of justice can rise up and hope and history rhyme.

For the sake of boys and girls born on this island who deserve the possibility than only peace can bring, let’s finally make hope and history rhyme together.

May God bless Cyprus, may God bless America and may there be a speedy resolution,” Biden concluded.

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