February 1st, 2010 12:15 EST
UN Chief Ban: Cyprus Solution Within Reach
1 February 2010 " Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon " who as a citizen of the Republic of Korea understands the emptiness " of a country divided into north and south " voiced optimism today that a solution to long-running problems in Cyprus is within reach, " calling for the leaders of the two communities on the Mediterranean island to step up their efforts.
I sincerely hope that the current Cypriot-led talks will bear a mutually acceptable solution as soon as possible, " Mr. Ban said at the inauguration ceremony for the Ledra-Lokmaci Street stabilization work in the capital, Nicosia.
The crossing was opened in April 2008 following and agreement by Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, which the Secretary-General hailed at the time as positive step forward. "
Also that year, the two men committed to establishing a federal government with a single international personality, along with a Turkish Cypriot Constituent State and a Greek Cypriot Constituent State, each of equal status.
Today, Mr. Ban welcomed the second phase of stabilization work at the crossing, which has become the symbol of the two leaders to heal divisions and to work together towards a common future. "
He stressed that thought it may be difficult, a solution is within reach, calling on Mr. Christofias and Mr. Talat to accelerate their work so that the people of Cyprus can enjoy a genuinely free and democratic and prosperous life. "
The Secretary-General arrived yesterday in the country, his first-ever visit to Cyprus, to show his support for United Nations-backed talks " which are Cypriot-led, Cypriot-owned " " on the island.
From his own experience as a citizen of the Republic of Korea, I have seen for myself the very sad reality, the emptiness and destruction and such very painful feelings I share with the people of Cyprus, " he said.
During his three-day visit to Cyprus, Mr. Ban is slated to hold discussions with Alexander Downer, his Special Adviser for Cyprus, as well as with Mr. Christofias and Mr. Talat.
In December, the Security Council extended by six months the mandate UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP), which was set up in 1964 to prevent further fighting between the communities. After hostilities erupted again in 1974, its responsibilities were expanded to supervise ceasefire lines, maintain a buffer zone and undertake humanitarian activities.