The UN SG waits to hear the intentions of the two sides in Cyprus, says his Special Representative

The UN Secretary General remains committed to supporting the two sides in Cyprus, the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot side, if they jointly come back to the UN and ask for support in a renewed process and with the prerequisite political will, Elizabeth Spehar, the UN Secretary-General`s Special Representative in Cyprus, said after she briefed the Security Council on the renewal of UNFICYP’s mandate.

Spehar said they discussed the current situation with respect to the Cyprus talks which, she said, “are not ongoing for the moment.”

“The parties continue in a period of reflection which is the result of a suggestion that had been made to them by the Secretary-General and the UN of course remains ready to support the sides, if they jointly come back to us and ask us to support them in their renewed process and the prerequisite political will,” she said.

She added that the SG “has made it very clear that his good offices remain available to the sides and this will always be the case. So now that has been said and he is really waiting for them to come to him”.

Spehar said the Security Council members were appreciative of the continuing work of UNFICYP on the ground as well as of the Good Offices, so they continue their strong support of the UN presence on the ground.

With respect to the peacekeeping mission, Spehar said “the Security Council expressed its support and acknowledgement that the mission still has a very important role to play in terms of maintaining calm and stability in and around the buffer zone.”

She also said they discussed the recent strategic review that took place in the Fall of last year in Cyprus, looking at the mission and seeing how it could become even more efficient and effective in the future.

The UN diplomat said her main point to the Council with respect to the strategic review is that “we at UNFICYP are fully ready with the support of our headquarters’ colleagues to implement any of the recommendations of the review that are endorsed by the Security Council. So that is the gist of our deliberations.”

Asked when the next round of negotiations on Cyprus will resume, Spehar said “the Secretary-General said that he is waiting to see from the sides what they would do”. She said with the electoral cycle concluding in a few more weeks, “the intentions of the sides will be expressed to the Secretary-General.”

Invited to explain why in this report the hydrocarbons and possibility of tensions are mentioned, Spehar said “the issue of hydrocarbons is something that was briefly mentioned in the report in relation to our concern that tensions seem to be growing in Eastern Mediterranean and around Cyprus and Cyprus’s EEZ around the issue hydrocarbons exploration. So the main point of putting that in the report was to alert the Council to this and the fact that of course it’s in everyone’s interest to keep tensions low”.

Regarding the condition of Ledra Palace Hotel where the mission is stationed, Spehar said it was determined that the Ledra Palace Hotel has some issues. “It’s an old building. It needs some work to make it really fully fit for purpose throughout, on all levels, and so we will be relocating our troops that are currently living there on the second floor, which is considered to be the most precarious part of the building to alter accommodation. But we will still be able to use parts of the Ledra Palace hotel for some meetings and some activities.

Asked about the issue concerning Husein Moussa, UNFICYP chief financial officer, she said this is being dealt with. “It is an internal review process and it’s being done very professionally. Thoroughly.”

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The latest round of UN-peace talks at the Swiss resort of Crans – Montana ended without an agreement.

UNFICYP was established by Security Council resolution 186 (1964), with a mandate “to prevent a recurrence of fighting and, as necessary, to contribute to the maintenance and restoration of law and order and a return to normal conditions”. While the mandate of the Mission remains the same to date, its responsibilities evolved following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, to include supervising the ceasefire lines, maintaining a buffer zone, and facilitating inter-communal contacts.

source: CNA

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