Time for a renewed spirit of leadership in Cyprus

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Tuesday, 8 February, 2011

After meeting the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities during The Elders' fourth visit to the divided island, Desmond Tutu and Gro Brundtland emphasise that greater goodwill, trust and compromise are needed to achieve a lasting resolution of the conflict.

8 February 2011

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Elders’ chair Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his fellow Elder Dr Gro Brundtland today called for a renewed spirit of leadership in Cyprus, emphasising the need for courage and vision in order to achieve a lasting resolution of the conflict for the benefit of future generations.

The Elders met Turkish Cypriot leader Dr Derviş Eroğlu and Greek Cypriot leader Mr Demetris Christofias in Nicosia this morning to learn about the progress of negotiations on a settlement and to offer their support to the leaders’ efforts. This is the fourth Elders visit to Cyprus since September 2008.

Dr Gro Brundtland said: “After two and a half years of negotiations, we are a little disappointed that we still seem to be so far from an agreement. However we are convinced that a solution is possible. Of course compromise will be necessary and no agreement is ever perfect – but lasting peace and certainty for the children of Cyprus will be the reward. This, we believe, is worth the effort of rising above today’s narrow partisan concerns.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu called on the leaders of both communities to show greater goodwill for the benefit of all. “I would like to suggest that each leader considers making a magnanimous gesture – one that does not demand something in return. This would not be an act of weakness. It shows goodwill and builds trust. Sometimes it may require a leader to do things that his or her constituency may not like. But if the leaders can deliver lasting peace, today’s difficult decisions will pale into insignificance.”

The Elders also met HB Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus. They encouraged His Beatitude to support the creation of an inter-religious council which would include all faith leaders from both communities to address issues of mutual concern.

The Elders regret that they were not able to meet the Mufti of the Turkish Cypriot community, Mr Talip Atalay due to his travel commitments.

This evening the Elders will attend a special screening of a documentary film on the search for the missing in Cyprus. The film, Cyprus: Digging the Past in Search of the Future follows Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter and Lakhdar Brahimi and four young Cypriots from both communities as they learn of the search for all those who disappeared in inter-communal violence and conflict in the 1960s and 1970s.

Together the Elders and their young friends see the remarkable efforts of the Committee on Missing Persons to recover the remains of the missing, identify them and return them to their families. The relationships that the Elders encounter between the four young people and among the CMP scientists impressed them deeply and they hope their example will inspire others. The film will be shown soon on television in Cyprus.

Read more about The Elders' work on Cyprus.

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About The Elders

The Elders are an independent group of global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007, 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.

For biographies of the Elders, blogs, photos, videos and more information about their work please go to

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