Tutu, Brahimi and Carter urge all Cypriots who want a solution to give Christofias and Talat their support
Desmond Tutu, Lakhdar Brahimi and Jimmy Carter have concluded their visit to Cyprus, observing that talks on an agreement to reunify the island are making slow but steady progress.
During their stay on the island on 8-10 December, the Elders met the Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. They also held a public meeting to discuss issues of trust and truth-seeking in divided societies.
Elders’ chair, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: “Cyprus needs an honest and open dialogue about the past if people are to walk together into a shared future. But it is not easy. Reconciliation is a process, and it takes a long time. It means saying to the other ‘I want to begin to be your friend’ and to open yourself up to the possibility of being hurt or misunderstood. But the fruits of that work are fantastic! What I have seen this time on the island makes me more hopeful. I think Cyprus can be a beacon of hope for the whole world.”
President Jimmy Carter added: “I consider it most important to support the people of Cyprus in reunifying the island. In all my work around the globe, I have rarely seen two leaders better able to resolve a conflict without outside interference. I also have confidence in the wisdom and judgement of the people of Cyprus to shape their own future. There is no doubt that the majority of Cypriots want a settlement and that the leaders are working hard to deliver it. The two communities now need to prepare for a solution.”
Lakhdar Brahimi emphasised that progress between the leaders is being made: “This is our third Elders visit and each time I am more impressed by the efforts of the two courageous leaders. Despite daily frustrations, they continue their work, and will intensify it in the New Year. The agreement the leaders make won’t be perfect but it should be supported. In my experience, a compromise solution is better than no solution.”
While they were in Cyprus the Elders also took part in the filming of a documentary on the work of the Committee on Missing Persons. The film will be released in early 2010.
Notes to editors:
- The Elders are an independent group of global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering, and promote the shared interests of humanity.
- The Elders are Martti Ahtisaari, Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi, Gro Brundtland, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Graça Machel, Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu (Chair). Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi are honorary Elders.