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UNSG waiting to hear from both sides

lizabeth Spehar, head of Unficyp

The UN Secretary General remains committed to the two sides in Cyprus if they jointly come back to the UN and ask for support in a renewed process with the prerequisite political will, his Special Representative in Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar said after briefing the Security Council on the renewal of Unficyp’s mandate.

Spehar said they discussed the current situation with respect to the Cyprus talks which, “are not ongoing for the moment.”

She added that the UNSG “has made it very clear that his good offices remain available to the sides and this will always be the case. So now that has been said and he is really waiting for them to come to him”.

Spehar said the Security Council members were appreciative of the continuing work of Unficyp on the ground as well as of the Good Offices, so they continue their strong support of the UN presence on the ground.

With respect to the peacekeeping mission, Spehar said “the Security Council expressed its support and acknowledgement that the mission still has a very important role to play in terms of maintaining calm and stability in and around the buffer zone.”

She also said they discussed the strategic review that took place in the autumn last year in Cyprus, looking at the mission and seeing how it could become even more efficient and effective in the future.

Asked when the next round of negotiations on Cyprus will resume, Spehar said “the Secretary-General said that he is waiting to see from the sides what they would do”. She said with the electoral cycle concluding in a few more weeks, “the intentions of the sides will be expressed to the Secretary-General.”

Asked why hydrocarbons and possibility of tensions are mentioned in the report, Spehar said “the issue of hydrocarbons is something that was briefly mentioned in the report in relation to our concern that tensions seem to be growing in Eastern Mediterranean and around Cyprus and Cyprus’ EEZ around the issue hydrocarbons exploration. So the main point of putting that in the report was to alert the Council to this and the fact that of course it’s in everyone’s interest to keep tensions low”.

Regarding the condition of Ledra Palace Hotel where the mission is stationed, Spehar said it has some issues. “It’s an old building. It needs some work to make it really fully fit for purpose throughout, on all levels, and so we will be relocating our troops that are currently living there on the second floor, which is considered to be the most precarious part of the building to alternative accommodation. But we will still be able to use parts of the Ledra Palace hotel for some meetings and some activities”.

Asked about the issue concerning Husein Moussa, Unficyp chief financial officer, she said this is being dealt with. “It is an internal review process and it’s being done very professionally. Thoroughly.”

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