By Stephane Dujarric
With yet another Cyprus conference starting tomorrow, there cannot be a better time to talk about Maria. In fact as I was reading out the Secretary-General’s statement earlier today, I was thinking about her.
I can honestly say that Maria was my main teacher on the Cyprus issue. Not so much in telling me what to say – as with all her colleagues, she respected article 100 of the UN Charter – but in making it clear when I said the wrong thing.
Maria was ever vigilant. Arguably, the most vigilant of the press officers. I can’t think of another Mission press officer who has defended and promoted her country’s position more fiercely, but always with tact and kindness, as much as Maria had.
Interestingly, a few weeks ago I was giving speech to a group of Israeli officers from their war college. In the introduction, someone from the Israeli mission joked that they monitored the daily press briefing and were always quick to complain if there was an issue. I had to tell them that in terms of speed, Cyprus had them beat!
Over the years, I had the privileged of working with her preparing quite a few Cyprus talks, whether in Geneva, Buergenstock, Greentree or right here in the Secretariat. She was always very helpful in the planning process of these events, helping ensure that all the diplomatic pitfalls – and there are a few when dealing with Cyprus – were avoided as much as possible.
Maria was a true professional and someone who passionately loved her country and always a pleasure to work with.
I also want to say a few words about the other half of the partnership – Apostolis. I’ve known him as long as I’ve known Maria. And he too has always been a pleasure to work with.
Those of us who were present at the funeral home on Ditmars avenue that first evening of the visitation could not help but be overwhelmed by the strength and love shown by Apostolis and his two children, Irene and Evan.
*** UN Secretary General Spokesman’s remarks at Maria Zoupaniotis’ memorial. Cyprus House NY, Tuesday, June 27, 2017