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Government unhappy with UNSG report

The Barbaros

The government on Thursday expressed “strong displeasure” over the UN Secretary General’s report on the international organisation’s operation in Cyprus, which failed to cite Turkey’s economic zone violations and also spoke of Turkish Cypriot isolation.

Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said the government wished to express “its strong displeasure and disappointment” over the contents of the report, which covered UN activities in Cyprus between June 21 and December 15, 2014.

Ban Ki-moon’s report was given to UN Security Council members ahead of a discussion on UNFICYP’s mandate.

Christodoulides said there was no clear reference to the continuing violations of Cyprus’ sovereign rights and there wasn’t any reference to Turkey’s “illegal seismic surveys” inside the island’s exclusive economic zone by a research vessel, Barbaros,  which was accompanied by warships.

Those violations, which started in October, prompted President Nicos Anastasiades to pull out of reunification talks.

“The report outlines the events in a manner that does not reflect reality,” Christodoulides said. “The equal distance approach under the pretext of impartiality emboldens Turkey and further complicates the current situation.”

Nicosia’s problem is that Ban did not take a stance over Turkey’s actions. The UNSG only gave a brief outline of the events that led to the interruption of the talks.

Ban stressed the need for a prompt resumption of negotiations and appealed to the two sides to find a way to accomplish this without delay.

“I have noted that both communities can ill afford to perpetuate the status quo, in particular in the light of the wider regional context,” Ban said. “I reiterate my call to both sides to refrain from the “blame game” and from negative rhetoric about each other.”

The report also includes “exceptionally unfortunate claims” regarding supposed obstacles and restrictions that hinder the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community, the spokesman said.

“Any economic inequality between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities is the direct result of the continuing illegal occupation of part of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkish troops,” Christodoulides said.

He added that the government planned to protest at the highest level.

“The equal distance approach under the pretext of impartiality emboldens Turkey and further complicates the current situation,” the spokesman added.

In his 11-page report, Ban said an active civil society and the continued development of economic, social, cultural, sporting or similar ties and contacts between the two communities could provide critical support to political leaders and help them make the necessary compromises at the negotiating table.

“Similarly, the removal of restrictions and barriers that impede the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community will promote trust. Such a development will help to address the isolation concerns of the Turkish Cypriots, as well as their inability to participate meaningfully in an interconnected world, thereby preparing Cyprus for a comprehensive settlement.

Ban urged the leaders of the two communities to exert efforts to create a climate conducive to achieving greater economic and social parity between the two sides, including through joint projects and increased trade, which will make an eventual reunification easier and more likely.

The UNSG’s report is used to inform members of the Security Council ahead of a vote for the renewal of UNFICYP’s mandate, scheduled for January 28.

UN special representative Lisa Buttenheim will brief the UNSC on January 26

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