THE Diko press office yesterday issued an announcement describing as “extremely worrying” the developments regarding Unficyp. It was referring to the UN Security Council decision, expected to be approved today, to renew the peacekeeping force’s mandate for the customary six months but with an important caveat. Within four months, there must be a review of the operation, as part of a US-instigated review of all UN operations.
The party is perfectly correct to see this review as “extremely worrying” considering that back in April (Sunday Mail, April 30) the US special representative at the UN wrote to the secretary-general asking the following: “What should the [Security] Council do in situations where there is no political process to support? What if the missions serve a valuable protection role, but without any conceivable conclusion to this role? How long should the Council wait before re-examining the value of a mission when the political process breaks down? Would it be beneficial to institutionalise the inclusion of clear exit strategies in every mission’s mandate?”
It is not beyond the realm of possibility the review will decide that the presence of Unficyp is not justified given there is “no political process to support”. In fact, it could be argued that the presence of Unficyp creates a sense of security that allows the sides to be content with the status quo – a disincentive to reaching a settlement. The presence of Unficyp, controlling the buffer zone that separates the two sides, allows the rejectionists like the Diko leader and the parties supporting his candidacy to fight every attempt made at reaching a settlement. Would they persist with the tough, hard-line rhetoric if they knew Unficyp would pull out?
Meanwhile, the government is in a quandary. On two different occasions yesterday, negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis said it was of “extreme importance to find ways and means to resume the procedure, because I do not believe we have an alternative solution”. Ironically, the government, which has done nothing else in the last week than publicly disparage and denigrate the UN secretary-general’s special advisor, whom our president repeatedly called a liar, wants the peace process to remain within the UN framework. We systematically abuse the UN claiming the UNSG’s special advisor promoted and defended Turkey’s interests, but we still want the Cyprus problem within the UN framework and Unficyp here to protect us.
It remains to be seen what the Security Council will decide, but the prospect of Unficyp’s withdrawal might make some of our politicians realise that the maintenance of the status quo is not better than a settlement.