NCOSIA, 14 December 2017 – The Office of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General (OSASG) on Cyprus hosted its annual end-of-year reception on 12 December at Ledra Palace Hotel. In attendance were senior government officials, UN personnel, members of the diplomatic corps, civil society and the media from across Cyprus.
Speaking at the reception, the Deputy Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Cyprus, Ms. Elizabeth Spehar, who also serves as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Cyprus and Head of UNFICYP, noted that the annual reception was an occasion to reflect on the past months as well as the prospects for the New Year ahead.
“It is beyond doubt that 2017 was a crucial and historic year for the negotiations. The Conference on Cyprus first convened in Geneva in January 2017 and, as we all know, reconvened in Crans-Montana on 28 June. Over ten days, the parties worked assiduously trying to reach a strategic agreement and came very close to it,” she said. “We know that the announcement of the closure of the Conference on Cyprus left many feeling very disappointed as well as uncertain about the future. Nevertheless, hope should not be given up.”
She reiterated that the United Nations remains at the ready to assist the sides, should there jointly be the political will for it. She highlighted that this political will must come from both the leaders and the communities, in a mutually reinforcing manner, and stressed the paramount role of civil society.
“Many of you strive to build this future, engaging directly across the divide, and have shown time and again that what unites you is far more than the differences that divide you. Much more can be done however to reach out in both communities to all who wish to become engaged in building a shared vision for the future of this beautiful island,” she added. “There is also a pressing need to strengthen the involvement of women, not only through their presence in the negotiating team and at the table, but also by ensuring that their concerns are fully taken into account.”
DSASG Spehar concluded her remarks by wishing for a peaceful and prosperous future on the island, in the region and across the world.