United Nations.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said that the UN and he personally are at the disposal of the two Cypriot communities and of the guarantor powers to support the search of a solution that is acceptable to all.
Guterres who was speaking on Tuesday at the UN Security Council`s debate on conflicts in Europe noted that “we are leading some of [the] peace efforts in Europe including negotiations to reach a comprehensive and durable settlement to the long-standing Cyprus question.”
He said that conflicts in Europe are not only a tragedy for those directly involved, but they are also reversing development gains and preventing communities and societies from achieving their potential and contributing to regional and global prosperity.
Speakers at the debate from over 44 member states and representatives of the OSCE and the EU sent the message never to take peace in Europe for granted. Most speakers focused on Ukraine, Cyprus and the disputed territories in Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnistria and Georgia. In total, eighteen members states and one observer state mentioned Cyprus in their remarks.
Participating foreign ministers, senior officials and other representatives of Member States paid tribute to Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation, who died on 20 February, and expressed their condolences to his family and the Government of Russian Federation.
Helga Schmid, Secretary General of the European External Action Service said that we are finally witnessing history in the making in Cyprus, with the UN-facilitated talks between the two Cypriot Leaders reaching their end game. Never has a settlement been so close.
“The EU has a special role to play because a future united Cyprus will be a member of the European Union. We are represented at the highest level in the Conference on Cyprus in Geneva, with both President Juncker and High Representative Mogherini personally engaged and committed,” she noted
The US Permanent Representative Nikki Haley said that the leaders in Cyprus are working to end the longstanding division of the island to achieve a settlement, which the United States strongly supports.
Deputy Permanent Representative of Russian Federation Pietr Ilichev said that Russia’s position on Cyprus has not changed. “We would like to see an achievement of an equitable and comprehensive as well as viable situation on the island. In the interest of all of its people, we would support Cypriot-led solutions and the inclusion of Security Council members in the discussions of the political solution,” he noted.
Ilichev also stressed that “on the matter of security guarantees, Russia thinks that the best would be guarantees from the Security Council rather than from separate countries.”
French Permanent Representative Francois Delattre described Cyprus issue as an irritant, as this is a country in the centre of the European Union. “In spite of recent stumbling, significant progress has been made over the past months in negotiations. This is the furthest the parties have ever gone,” he noted.
Delattre added that much remains to be done to find a lasting solution, with “parameters that have to be in line with the Security Council resolutions, the principles of the UN Charter, as well as the EU principles.” He said it is urgent now to resume negotiations, by continuing with the positive trend seen over the past months and making headway on important issues including security.
Sweden`s Deputy Foreign Minister Anika Sodor stressed the need “to commit to efforts to move the promising Cyprus peace process forward”.
Cyprus` representative, Michalis Mavros, reiterated Cyprus` profound appreciation to the Security Council and the Secretary General for the continuous efforts towards the peaceful and lasting solution of the Cyprus Question, in line with international law, the relevant Security Council resolutions and the acquis communautaire.
“The ongoing negotiating process has reached a critical juncture, Mavros said. The convening of a Conference on Cyprus, under the auspices of the UN Secretary General, to address the international aspects of the problem, namely, security which comprises the most fundamental elements of an eventual settlement specifically the withdrawal of foreign troops and the abolition of the anachronistic system of guarantees, is a watershed in the whole process,” he added.
The Cypriot representative expressed hope that all parties involved will demonstrate the requisite degree of commitment and political will so that the effort will yield results.
“We are most grateful for the Secretary General’s personal involvement and for the Security Council’s strong signal of unity and support to the effort. Since the issues at hand fall within the remit of the Security Council, as the body with primary responsibility for the preservation of international peace and security, we consider it important to stress that this body has an inherently particular role to exercise in this regard,” he added.
Michalis Mavros said that the successful outcome of the ongoing negotiation process in Cyprus has the potential to establish Cyprus as an international paradigm of peaceful co-existence and prosperous collaboration between its citizens, irrespective of their ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds.
“Such a development not only will transform Cyprus into a model-country of stability and predictability for the region, but will also bear out the catalytic role of the Security Council in promoting international peace and stability”, he concluded.