By Dr Andrestinos Papadopoulos
AFTER MEETING with UN Special Advisor Alexander Downer in New York on November 1, the UN Security General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement which created a negative climate in Cyprus.
He called on the two sides to set a date for a meeting between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders by Friday, November 8, and expressed his concern that efforts to agree on a joint statement were hampering the restart of peace talks. At the same time, he highlighted the “limited window of opportunity” for a solution and expressed his “full confidence” in Downer.
One wonders whether the purpose of the Secretary General’s statement was to deliberately create a negative climate and provoke the political parties in Cyprus. He knew that President Anastasiades considered a joint statement which defines “clearly and without any trace of doubt the basic principles for the solution of the Cyprus problem” was absolutely necessary before talks could begin. These basic principles have also been repeatedly recorded in UN Security Council resolutions on Cyprus. Concerning the “limited window of opportunity” it should be recalled that Turkey has shut many windows dating back to 1965 when she rejected the report submitted by the then UN mediator in CyprusGaloPlaza.
On the question of “full confidence”, President Anastasiades’ is right in the position that confidence is gained through actions and behaviour which conform to the resolutions of the Security Council and the principles of the UN Charter.
These comments by the UN Secretary General took place within the framework of the good offices mission decided by the Security Council in its Resolutions 244 (1967) of December 22, 1967 and 367 (1975) of March 12, 1975, calling upon the parties to use the good offices of the UNSG to solve the Cyprus problem.
Unfortunately, while Turkey exploited the good offices mission to upgrade the pseudo state, our side, believing in the United Nations, made a series of concessions. From demanding a unitary state we came to accept a bizonal federation, from demanding 20 per cent of territory coming under Turkish Cypriot administration we went up to 25 per cent, and from the position that all the settlers should return to Turkey we came to accept that a number of settlers could remain in Cyprus, for humanitarian reasons.
This, however, is not the character of the good offices mission of the UNSG. According to Article 98 of the UN Charter the Secretary-General was entrusted with the function of the good offices. Performing this function, the UNSG should act in accordance with the purposes and the principles of the charter, the rules of international law and the decisions of the Security Council. This position has been defended by previous UNSGs, Dag Hammarskjold and U Thant, who considered compliance with the charter as a sine qua non condition of the exercise of the function of good offices by the Secretary-General. More importantly, in the landmark 1962 “Certain Expenses Case”, the International Court took the position that the validity of the United Nations actions should be tested in the light of the purposes of the charter. Moreover, distinguished international lawyers, like Professor Derek Bowett, were of the opinion that when the UNSG acts in accordance with a specific decision he should consider it in practice as a binding term of reference.
In view of the above, the disappointment of the Greek Cypriots is fully justified because Cyprus believed in the United Nations and has demonstrated on many occasions its dedication to the principles and values enshrined in its charter.
Dr Andrestinos Papadopoulos is a former ambassador of the CyprusRepublic