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Cyprus

Unficyp discusses future role with president

File photo: Unficyp soldiers monitoring the buffer zone

The United Nations team that has been tasked with conducting a strategic review of the peacekeeping force in Cyprus (Unficyp) briefed President Nicos Anastasiades on its mandate and heard the government’s views, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said on Friday, following a meeting at the Presidential Palace.
“They are at the stage of investigation, we explained our views, they asked questions,” Kasoulides said.
The team, headed by external expert, Wolfgang Weisbrod-Weber, arrived on the island on Thursday and will be conducting an evidence-based assessment of the impact of Unficyp activities ‘in order to develop recommendations on how the mission can be optimally configured to implement its existing mandate’, an announcement said earlier this week.
“For us, the future [of Unficyp] is based on one of three scenarios: one is the periods when there are no negotiations [for a solution to the Cyprus problem]; the second is a period when talks offer the prospect of a breakthrough; and the third scenario is, if the talks yield a result, what will Unficyp’s role be,” Kasoulides said.
Asked whether Nicosia insists on no change in Unficyp’s role and troop numbers, Kasoulides said; “We accept assessing both the cost and the results of Unficyp, without jeopardising its ability to carry out the mandate it was handed by the Security Council, to maintain peace in Cyprus”.
On remarks by Turkish Cypriot chief negotiator Ozdil Nami that before entering a new dialogue, following the collapse of the most recent round of talks in Crans-Montana in July, the status of the breakaway regime in the north of Cyprus must be clarified – referring explicitly to a pledge for ‘recognition’ if the new talks fail – the minister said; “Mr Nami reminds me of Mr Denktash of another time, when he demanded the content of any agreement for marriage to include arrangements for a possible divorce”.
“But, to be serious, I think if we start setting conditions we won’t even get to start the talks,” he said.
“Personally, I don’t take what Mr Nami says at face value, for the simple reason that they, too, have ‘elections’ on their side.”
The Turkish Cypriots will be heading to the polls in mid-January for snap elections, days before the Greek Cypriots elect a new president.
Meanwhile, President Nicos Anastasiades also addressed Nami’s remarks, urging Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots to ‘abandon the unacceptable things we have been hearing in the last few days and work constructively toward ending the occupation and reunifying our country’.
Speaking at a convention on Friday, Anastasiades said, “Resuming and then bringing the talks to a successful ending clearly requires the necessary preparation, as well as the required cooperation by all interested parties, especially, of course, the responsible party, Turkey”.
“Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots must realise that it is only through dialogue, mutual respect and a dignified compromise that we will achieve a fair, viable and functional solution,” he said.
“On our part, we have the patience and the persistence to continue our efforts in the framework of face-to-face negotiations.”

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