United Nations.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has recommended that the Security Council extends UNFICYP’s mandate until January 31, 2020 in recognition of its continued contribution to the maintenance of peace and stability. An advanced copy of his report was given to the members of the Security Council late on Wednesday.
On the effort for the resumption of Cyprus reunification talks the UN SG reiterates his “call to the parties to engage in the current consultations exercise constructively, creatively and with the necessary urgency.”
“The parties should redouble their efforts to restore full-fledged negotiations and their engagement should be infused with a sense of purpose and determination to reach a successful end within a foreseeable horizon,” he stresses.
“Continued violations and low-level tensions during the period under review demonstrate how UNFICYP, through its monitoring, engagement and liaison, continues to play an indispensable role in preventing escalation,” Guterres writes in his report on UNFICYP.
I am concerned, he notes, “that pending a full-fledged resumption of the Cyprus talks, violations of the military status quo will continue, posing a potential threat to security and stability in the buffer zone and beyond.”
“Against this background, the continued presence of UNFICYP remains essential to report and address violations in accordance with its mandate, prevent tensions, contribute to the creation of conditions conducive to a political settlement,” he adds.
“In recognition of the continued contribution by UNFICYP to the maintenance of peace and stability, I therefore recommend that the Security Council extends the mission’s mandate until 31 January 2020,” Guterres says.
The UN SG welcomes the Security Council’s call to report on “how United Nations activities on Cyprus can be best configured to advance political progress while preserving stability”. This request, he notes, “has served as an important reminder that even in long standing peace operations such as UNFICYP, there remains scope for improvement and adjustments.”
In line with the Action for Peacekeeping Initiative, he continues, “I am committed to ensuring the highest-level of peacekeeping performance.”
“I am also cognizant of the limited scope for manoeuvre in a lean mission such as UNFICYP, I will nonetheless continue to strive towards ever-greater efficiency and effectiveness in UNFICYP,” he says.
Guterres also recalls that UN senior official Jane Holl Lute “continued her consultations on my behalf aimed at facilitating agreement on the terms of reference that would constitute a consensus starting point for a possible negotiated conclusion to the Cyprus issue.”
On the Cyprus issue, the UN SG says, “despite the notable progress on confidence-building measures and initial engagement on ‘mechanisms’, the mood surrounding the peace process did not improve, with the two sides continuing to disagree over substance and blaming the other for the persisting stalemate.”
In the absence of negotiations, “skepticism remained widespread and interest in and hope for the peace process remained low,” he finds.
“In spite of the Security Council’s call in resolution 2453 (2019) on both leaders to “improve the public atmosphere for negotiation (…) by preparing the communities for a settlement, and (…) delivering more constructive and harmonized messages” few if any concerted efforts were noted in that direction,” he points out.
Guterres also refers to recent polling commissioned by the United Nations and European Union-financed World Bank surveys which “suggest that public expectations about resumption of the talks and prospects for a settlement remain low.”
“As I noted in my last report on my good offices mission, there is consensus that the status quo, that is, lack of a resolution to the Cyprus issue, is not sustainable. There is also widespread support for the view that a horizon of an endless process without results lies behind us, not before us,” he says.
According to Guterres developments in the region have also not contributed to a positive atmosphere for a resumption of talks.
“In a concerning development, tensions over hydrocarbons continued to grow, with few prospects of subsiding in the near or medium term,” he says.
Meanwhile, he adds, “there continued to be a particularly dense concentration of various national and joint naval forces and military, search and rescue and other exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean, including around Cyprus.”
The UN SG continues “to monitor developments related to hydrocarbons closely and with concern.”
“I have repeatedly stressed that the natural resources found in and around Cyprus should benefit both communities and constitute a strong incentive for all parties to find a mutually acceptable and durable solution to the Cyprus problem,” he notes.
Bearing in mind that all parties have expressed their commitment to this objective, he reiterates his “call for serious efforts to avoid any further escalation and to defuse tensions.”
At the same time he stresses “once again the importance for the sides to respect UNFICYP’s mandated authority.”
He points out that “the mission’s mandate requires reconciling security considerations and the maintenance of the military status quo with facilitating reasonable civilian activities within the buffer zone, particularly when livelihoods depend on it.”
“In order to achieve this delicate balance and maintain calm and stability, UNFICYP must be allowed to exercise its mandated authority impartially, based on carefully defined criteria, most importantly security,” he says.
Guterres also notes that the mission’s efforts to step up engagement with both opposing forces “will continue, as should commitment on the part of the opposing forces to maintain a regular dialogue with UNFICYP at all levels.”
“When misunderstandings and tensions arise, unilateral actions must be avoided and existing liaison mechanisms with UNFICYP taken full advantage of,” he says.
Restrictions on UNFICYP’s freedom of movement imposed in Strovilia and elsewhere, he adds, must be lifted immediately and permanently and the mission’s ability to patrol and carry out other mandated activities fully restored.”
The United Nations, he says, “continues to hold the Government of Turkey responsible for the status quo in Varosha.”
Σε μεγάλο μέρος της έκθεσης ο ΓΓ του ΟΗΕ Αντόνιο Γκουτέρες, εξηγεί στα μέλη του Σ.Α. τα όσα έχει κάνει συμμορφούμενος με υποδείξεις του ψηφίσματος 2453 οι οποίες σχετίζονται με τις προϋποθέσεις που έχουν θέση οι ΗΠΑ για το ρόλο των ειρηνευτικών επιχειρήσεων, αλλά και την στρατηγική αξιολόγηση της ΟΥΝΦΙΚΥΠ.
Antonio Guterres explains in detail in his report his action in compliance with 2453 (2019) Security Council Resolution, as well as the recommendation of UNFICYP’s strategic review, endorsed by the Council. On the “mechanisms” he says that UNFICYP engaged with both sides and other stakeholders on other core aspects of Security Council resolution 2453 (2019), including the call for “the sides and other involved parties to explore ways to establish mechanisms and to enhance existing initiatives, with UNFICYP as facilitator through its liaison role, for effectively alleviating tensions and to help address island-wide matters that affect all Cypriots”.
“ Specifically, UNFICYP explored with the leaders and other relevant interlocutors potential areas where both sides could stand to benefit from more systematic information exchange and problem-solving, with a view to preventing tensions and negative incidents from occurring, and/or contributing concrete benefits to people through practical means. These include areas such as disaster preparedness and response, the exchange of criminal information and suspects, response to migration and addressing military-level tensions. As regards the establishment of a potential military mechanism between the opposing forces, both sides expressed interest and acknowledged the possible value-added of such a mechanism. The positions of the two sides, however, varied with respect to the possible detailed structure, composition and modus operandi of the mechanism. Regarding arrangements of a civilian or law enforcement nature, while the Turkish Cypriot side expressed its willingness to consider enhanced or new mechanisms, the Greek Cypriot side cautioned against any new arrangements that it perceives as conferring a recognized status to the other community, arguing instead for these issues to be addressed through the existing technical committees. That said, progress was made in identifying gaps where new or enhanced mechanisms between the sides, with UNFICYP facilitation, would benefit the communities. It was also clarified between the sides and the UN that such “mechanisms” would fall directly under the stewardship of the two leaders and their respective teams.”
In paragraph 55 of his observations, U.N. Secretary General stresses that “in their efforts to promote closer cooperation between the communities, local and international actors continue to be confronted with challenges and obstacles linked to the status of the north and concerns related to “recognition”. While maintaining United Nations policy on Cyprus and making sure that decisions of the Security Council on this matter are upheld, concerns over “recognition” should not in themselves constitute an insurmountable obstacle to increased cooperation. As the sides explore further opportunities for confidence-building and cooperation, I urge them to devise creative ways of overcoming these obstacles with a view to achieving meaningful progress and delivering tangible benefits to their communities, without prejudice to the issue of “recognition”. The United Nations remains fully committed to providing them with the necessary facilitation and support.”