United Nations.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
The Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cyprus to the United Nations is optimistic over the prospects of Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis` candidacy for the Presidency of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly.
The position assigned for the countries belonging to the Asia-Pacific Group, of which Cyprus is a member, is also contested by Fiji and their Permanent Representative Peter Thomson. The elections will be held on June 13.
Ambassador Nicholas Emiliou, the Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the UN, said in an interview with CNA that Cyprus` candidacy is strong and enjoys wide support.
Through Mavroyiannis` election, Cyprus will be indirectly at the forefront of the international organization for a whole year, Emiliou has added.
Speaking on the campaign, he said that he conducted over 180 meetings with his counterparts at the UN, while Mavroyiannis himself has visited New York and other capitals to promote the candidacy.
“We hope that, despite the difficulties, we will succeed in electing Mavroyiannis as President of the General Assembly, which will be the greatest honor for Cyprus” the Permanent Representative has said.
Cyprus had submitted its candidacy first, in April 2008, to be followed by Kazakhstan a year later. Fiji submitted its own candidacy in October 2014. However, Kazakhstan has withdrawn its candidacy, due to its parallel bid for the Security Council, leaving only two contestants vying for the position.
Emiliou noted that elections are held at the General Assembly, with a simple majority of the votes of 193 member states. Thus, it requires 97 votes to elect Mavroyiannis, he added.
Talking about Cyprus` priorities for the Presidency, the Cypriot diplomat said that promoting peace and security is a fundamental goal of the UN Charter. In addition, the protection of cultural heritage in conflict areas or areas under foreign occupation, improving the place of women and promoting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, are also included in the priorities.
Protecting fundamental human rights, dealing with the refugee crisis, fighting terrorism are also among some of Cyprus` broader goals during its tenure, if Mavroyiannis is elected.
Emiliou underlined that Cyprus enjoys a good reputation in the UN and the fact that it is a small country with the capacity of an “honest broker”, a founding member of the Non Aligned Movement and now an EU member, are all strong assets for the candidacy.
Asked about the Cyprus problem and its potential to influence the incumbent, Emiliou responds that the President of the General Assembly is an independent UN official and is traditionally impartial with regards to national agenda`s.
“This is certainly the role Mavroyiannis will also perform, if elected” the Ambassador adds.
He recalls the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU, in the second half of 2012, noting that it was a successful term, despite some concerns that were voiced. He added that Mavroyiannis has contributed significantly to this success, being the Deputy Minister for European Affairs at the time.
Asked about the forthcoming reports on the renewal of UNFICYP`s mandate and on the Secretary General`s good offices mission, Emiliou says that he expects a process, similar to that of last July, when the UNFICYP mandate was last renewed.
On the UN SG`s report, Emiliou said that it will be drafted by his Special Adviser for Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, who is responsible for the content and who, according to the Cypriot diplomat, has a stake in avoiding adverse side-effects in the ongoing settlement talks on the island.