United Nations.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Signing as “President” of the illegal pseudostate in the occupied northern part of Cyprus, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci send a letter to the members of the U.N. Security Council, in response to a letter sent by President Anastasiades on 25 June on the renewal of UNFICYP’s mandate.
The letter – with the unusual title “enclosure” – is annexed in a letter from the Turkish Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioğlu, who has attached another cover letter from the Turkish Cypriot representative in New York İsmet Korukoğlu. It is dated July 5th and it has been circulated as an official document of the Security Council on Friday, July 13.
President Anastasiades’ letter has been submitted to the UN SG’s office and to the President of the Security Council, with instructions to be distributed among the Council Members, but not to be circulated as an official UN document.
In his letter, Akinci said that “although the presence of UNFICYP has contributed to the stability on our island through its initial mandate after more than half a century of its operation in Cyprus, it is imperative for the United Nations Security Council to seriously reconsider and evaluate the mandate of this mission in the light of fundamental changes in the circumstances, such as the opening of crossing points between the two sides and the like”.
Referring to a 2000 report by the then chair of the Panel on United Nations Peacekeeping, Lakhdar Brahimi, which stated that the consent of all local parties must be sought for a United Nations peacekeeping operation to be efficient and successful, Akinci said that UNFICYP continues to work with the Turkish Cypriot authorities without a legal basis, despite repeated calls to establish one. He also conveyed the readiness of his community to conclude a document with the United Nations addressing all aspects of their relations with UNFICYP and setting the legal basis.
Akinci also said that contributions by the governments of Cyprus and Greece to the budget of Unficyp, despite the fact that they are sides to the conflict in Cyprus, I”s a blatant example of conflict of interest and a practice which has been discontinued in all other United Nations missions in the world.”
Akinci called on the UN to encourage direct cooperation between the two parties without delay, taking into consideration, he said, that, one day Unficyp will no longer be present on the island.
“… I would like to remind the Security Council that there is nothing preventing the two sides from directly cooperating in all aspects, especially in crisis management and humanitarian issues, as long as the necessary political will exists. Taking into account the fact that one day there will be no presence of UNFICYP in Cyprus, direct cooperation should also be encouraged by the United Nations itself without any delay. Therefore, the presence of UNFICYP should not be exploited by the Greek Cypriot side as a pretext to create obstacles regarding direct dealings between the two sides. I expect the Members of the Security Council to take this into consideration in assessing the future of UNFICYP.”
As regards the settlement negotiations, he claimed that during the Conference, the Turkish Cypriot side, together with Turkey, decisively showed the flexibility required to reach a strategic agreement, which would have paved the way for further convergences in the remaining outstanding issues that are necessary for a final deal and going to simultaneous referendums thereafter.
“However, instead of reciprocating the steps taken and showing the necessary political courage and determination, the Greek Cypriot leadership only focused on shifting the blame, and as a result, this unique window of opportunity to solve the Cyprus problem was missed,”, he said.
He also described as an unprecedented initiative his proposal of April 30, on the two sides reaching a strategic agreement based on the Guterres Framework, which, he said, unfortunately it was not accepted by the Greek Cypriot leader.
“Unfortunately, rather than preparing his community for the compromise steps that are necessary for a settlement, as per the call of the United Nations Secretary-General in all his recent reports, the Greek Cypriot leadership continues to demonize political equality of the two sides and the principle of effective participation in decision-making. In order for the efforts aimed at reaching a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem to succeed, there must be a mentality shift in the Greek Cypriot leadership, whereby they openly display their readiness to share power and prosperity and embrace the political equality of the two communities, which is a well-established United Nations parameter”, the letter says.
Acting as Ankara’s proxy, Akinci, presents Turkish invasion as a legitimate response to the military coup of Greece in Cyprus on July 15, 1974.
“Turkey’s presence on the island should not be viewed as a means of aggression, but rather as a means to prevent aggression against Turkish Cypriots. In the face of these historical facts, rather than engaging in this kind of blame game, the Greek Cypriot leadership should focus on reaching a peaceful solution that will be mutually acceptable.”
Responding on behalf of Ankara to the accusations that Turkey has been the source of the escalation of tension in the Eastern Mediterranean, he reminds the Security Council of the repeated calls and proposals by the Turkish Cypriot side to establish a mechanism whereby the co-owners of the natural wealth around Cyprus, namely the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, would jointly decide on the management and future exploitation of these resources.
“Rather than continuing their unilateral steps in this sphere, which aim to exclude Turkish Cypriots and Turkey, Akinci says, I remain convinced that the interdependence and mutual benefit that would arise from inclusive regional partnerships would significantly contribute to peace and stability in our region and would also create a more conducive atmosphere for a solution in Cyprus.”
Addressing the members of the UNSC, Akinci said that in light of the above, it was imperative that the Security Council ensures that the presence of Unficyp in Cyprus after 54 years does not contribute to the status quo and it conforms to the changes in the situation on the ground.
“Therefore, he said, comprehensive review of the mandate, as well as the level and the concept of the presence of UNFICYP on the island should not be out of the question, since, in my view, any presence that creates a comfort zone for the Greek Cypriot side in Cyprus must be challenged.”
Foreign Minister, Nicos Christodoulides said what the Turkish Cypriot side was after, was to have a say in matters concerning UNFICYP.
Commenting to state broadcaster CyBC radio on Akinci’s letter, Christodoulides said that establishing a legal basis for cooperation with Unficyp was the main reason for the communication of the Turkish Cypriot leader to the UNSC. He added that similar letters were being sent regularly to the UNSC.
It seems, he said, it was a reaction to the letter sent by Anastasiades to the president of the UNSC and the UN Secretary-General, presenting some data, as the Republic of Cyprus is the hosting country for Unficyp.
“The approach of Turkey on this matter is well known. It is aimed at creating issues with that mission, because this serves long-established goals,” he said.
Christodoulides also said that the presence of Unficyp on the island is based on the UNSC resolution 186 of 1964 and it concerns the Republic of Cyprus.
Turkish Cypriots seek that legal status, he said, so that they can have a say in the continuation of the Unficyp operations in Cyprus. He said that this approach has been promoted by Turkey since 1964. It was the Cyprus Republic that requested the presence of a UN peacekeeping force on the island in March 1964 after the intercommunal troubles. If Unficyp was to establish a legal basis for cooperation with the Turkish Cypriot side, it would put the ‘TRNC’ on a par with the Republic and could be seen as recognition of the unrecognised statelet in the north.
The government of Cyprus expects that the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) will continue its mission as long as there are Turkish occupation troops on the island, Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said on Saturday.
Asked by CNA to comment on a letter addressed by the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci, to the Security Council, Prodromou said the government would like to avoid confrontation ahead of Jane Holl Lute’s visit in her capacity as personal envoy of the UN Secretary-General.
“Ahead of the forthcoming visit by the UN SG’s envoy to test the ground, with a view to resuming negotiations, we don’t wish to contribute towards a confrontational climate and therefore we will not comment on allegations, aiming at accepting and normalizing the Turkish occupation and division” of Cyprus, he noted.
Prodromou said however that allegations contained in Akinci’s letter “would have been valid, had the Turkish army terminated the occupation of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus.”
Negotiations and the peace process aim towards this, the termination of Turkish occupation, in line with UN resolutions, the Government Spokesman went on. “We look forward to the meeting with Lute. President Anastasiades will present there our position in a constructive manner” Prodomou underlined and said he expected the Turkish Cypriot side to also be constructive.
With regard to the peacekeeping force, Prodromou said its activity and presence “were a decisive factor of stability all these years.” “We expect the peacekeeping force to continue its mission as long as there are Turkish occupation troops in Cyprus” he added and concluded by saying that this position has been already conveyed by the Republic of Cyprus.
All decisions related to the mandate of UNFICYP are made by the Security Council and not at the field mission level, said Saturday UNFICYP Spokesperson Aleem Siddique.
Asked by CNA to comment on the points raised by the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci, in a letter to the Security Council, concerning the mandate of the peacekeeping force in Cyprus, Siddique said that the letter contains issues “that are for the Security Council’s consideration.”
He further noted that the UN SG’s Special Representative on Cyprus and Head of Mission Elizabeth Spehar will be briefing the Security Council on Tuesday, July 17 and “an important part of discussions will be the mandate of UNFICYP.”
The Security Council is expected to proceed with a vote on the renewal of UNFICYP’s mandate before the end of its current term on July 31, Siddique concluded.