By Staff Reporter
IN his latest report on the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon encouraged the two leaders to maintain the momentum of the Cyprus talks and to continue their efforts to bring the process to a successful conclusion.
In his report, released to members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) on Thursday, Ban recommends renewing the peacekeeping force’s mandate by another six months.
The UNSC resolution for the renewal of the mandate, which expires on January 31, is expected to be passed on January 28.
The UN Secretary General’s good offices report was, meanwhile, expected to be handed to UNSC members on Friday.
In the UNFICYP report, Ban Ki-moon noted that “at this critical juncture in the peace process and with encouraging prospects for an early solution, I count on Cyprus’ international partners to show commitment and resolve in supporting in any way possible initiatives and projects that build trust between the communities and foster support for a solution from the ground up.”
In this regard, Ban added, “I am particularly grateful for the sustained partnership between the United Nations and the European Union in support of confidence-building measures and other projects and initiatives, in particular crossing points, support to the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage and the Committee on Missing Persons.”
The UN chief said he is “heartened by the steady determination shown by the leaders in the intensified phase of the negotiations.”
“I encourage them to maintain the momentum and to continue their efforts to bring the process to a successful conclusion and reach a comprehensive settlement as soon as possible,” he points out.
In regard to confidence-building measures, and in particular the decision to open additional crossing points at Lefka-Apliki and Deryneia, the UN chief encouraged “both leaders to expedite preparations and open the crossings without delay.”
Referring to the incidents of November 16 in Nicosia during which two Turkish Cypriots were assaulted by Greek Cypriot youths, Ban commended the unity displayed by the two leaders in condemning the attacks.
Among others, Ban referred to the progress of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) noting that as at December 18, out of a total of 2001 missing persons on the official list, the Committee’s bi-communal teams of archaeologists had exhumed the remains of 1,059 missing persons on both sides of the island.
Ban Ki-moon also welcomed the confirmation by Mustafa Akinci, that the CMP excavation teams will have access to 30 suspected burial sites in military areas in the Turkish occupied area of Cyprus.
“I continue to call upon both community leaders to exert efforts to create a climate conducive to achieving greater economic and social parity between the two sides and to widen and deepen economic, social, cultural, sporting or similar ties and contacts, including with a view to encouraging trade,” he points out, adding that “such contacts promote trust between the communities and help to address the Turkish Cypriots’ concerns of isolation.”