The UN Security Council will hold an open meeting later Tuesday to adopt a resolution renewing the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) mandate for six more months. The resolution is expected to be adopted unanimously.
UN Secretary General`s Special Adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, the UNSG`s Special Representative in Cyprus, Elizabeth Spehar, briefed thoroughly on Monday the members of Council on the course of the UN-led negotiations on the Cyprus problem, between Cyprus President Nicos Anastiades and Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci. Eide also briefed earlier the UN Secretary General, during a meeting they had.
In statements to the press, after briefing the Security Council members, Eide said that the Council expressed strong support of every one of the 15 members once again. “They said that they recognize the effort that is being made by the leaders, they give strong support to the process and the way the process is organized, and they also give strong support to the way the UN mission is working,” he noted.
“We shared with them that over the last weeks and months there have been significant developments in the talks, and it is clear that maybe the old format of negotiations has largely come to an end, and the two leaders are largely taking personal charge of all issues,” he added.
He said that “in a week from now we will at least have the preliminary discussion also on the issues which so far have not been touched upon, including territory and security and guarantees. Then there will be a short break and then we believe that the leaders sincerely want to make the most out of August and September until again there is a meeting here, this time in the UN General Assembly,” he noted.
Eide reiterated that “events in the neighborhood over the last weeks have illustrated a crucial point, which is that the window for a solution in Cyprus remains open but it will definitely not remain open forever.”
“And I think it is very important, and I echo here what practically all members of the Council said, that even more than ever before there is really a need to grasp this chance, to negotiating sincerely, negotiate creatively and to seek to find solutions that can be beneficial to both communities and to a united Cyprus altogether,” he added.
Eide said that “we feel that it is within the reach of the possible that the leaders actually fulfill their own stated ambition which they stated on the 15 of May 2016 on the anniversary of their talks, where they said that they will work with determination and intend to find a settlement in 2016.”
He added that the UN don`t have a separate timeline “but the leaders themselves have been clearer than before and that makes it somewhat easier also to organize the coming weeks and months.”
He said that one of the things the Council also expressed strong views on, is the need to plan for the actual implementation of the settlement, “because given that we have new convergences and new agreements developing relatively quickly now, we may one day wake up and see that it is actually there, there is a settlement, but at the same time I think it would very unfortunate if we hadn’t done the practical planning early.”
Responding to a question, Eide reiterated that he was very worried on the night of the attempted coup in Turkey, adding that as of now “there seems to be no change in Turkish position, which is that they would like to see this solved.”
He added that what he told the Council is that these developments remind us that the window that is currently open might not be open forever. “And I think also that Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots are well-advised as their leaders say, to find a solution now, because the continuity of the current way of life in both sides of Cyprus is more likely to be ensured by a settlement by that, than by the opposite, and that is in the interest of both communities,” he noted.
On her part, Spehar said that there was a very strong support first of all for the leaders in Cyprus, and for the leader-led negotiation process – that was very clear from all of the interventions made by the Council members – as well as support for the work of UNFICYP and its role in peace and security in maintaining calm in the buffer zone, as well as support to the good offices process, to confidence-building measures. There was also good support and great interest in the work of the good offices as well, she added.
She said that the Council was definitely interested in the issue of planning for an eventual settlement should the leaders come to an agreement, adding that “we explained that we have been doing some initial thinking and planning within the Secretariat and within the two missions, but of course further work will have to be guided by progress in the negotiations and what the two sides will ask the United Nations to do, in support of an eventual settlement.”
She noted that hopefully, this issue of the contours of a settlement and possible means of implementation will be something that the leaders will continue to make good progress on, in the coming period so that in complementarity the United Nations can also start to plan in more detail for providing eventual support.
Spehar also said that there was a particularly strong show of support for the work on the Committee on Missing Persons, and an interest to see that work progress even more quickly.
She noted that she expressed ongoing support for the work of the CMP, adding that this is a very time-bound issue. “The family members are getting older; people who may have information are getting progressively older, and so time is certainly of the essence also on that particular issue”, she added. She also said that there was also a great interest in demining.