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Senior UN official to come to Cyprus for consultations – UNSG report

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres believes there is still a way for both sides to act responsibly in a way thatcan give the island a common future and plans to send a senior UN official to Cyprus in the next few weeks, an advance copy of his report to members of the Security Council revealed on Friday.

In his report, Guterres said “I believe there is still scope for the sides to act responsibly and decisively in order to chart a common way forward for the island”.

“In the coming period, I intend to send a senior UN official to conduct in-depth consultations with the parties. The consultations will provide a more formal, structured, and detailed channel for the parties to convey to the UN the outcomes of their reflection since Crans-Montana and to help determine whether conditions have or have not matured at this stage for a meaningful process. I encourage the parties to recognize the importance of this exercise and to seize the opportunity accordingly”.

In his report, the UNSG outlined the future of the island is a responsibility of all Cypriots, but the leaders bear the primary responsibility for the negotiations, adding that should they jointly agree to resume talks with the intent of agreeing on a comprehensive settlement.

The leaders will need to demonstrate the strongest political commitment, courage and determination, he said.

“They will also need to recapture their sense of urgency, address the erosion of trust and deliver strong and unambiguous signals of political will. To be able to conclude a mutually beneficial deal, they will need to engage their communities and explain the benefits of the solution, as well as the importance of compromise on both sides”.

Referring to the guarantor powers, he pointed out that they will also, without doubt, need to do their part and engage in a determined and constructive manner.

“Furthermore, the Security Council —and, indeed, all friends of Cyprus, particularly the European Union —will need to increase their support and encouragement to the leaders and all parties concerned.”

The contents of the report reported by the Cyprus News Agency outlined developments from 12 August 2017 to 21 May 2018.

Throughout this period Anastasiades had confirmed he was ready to negotiate on the basis of the framework put forward in Crans-Montana “subject to good preparations for a possible reconvening of the conference on Cyprus, including through shuttle diplomacy,” Guterres said.

“He clarified, however, that no negotiations could take place while ‘Turkish provocations’ continued in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone”.

Akinci had confirmed his commitment to the six-point framework introduced in Crans-Montana to resolve the core outstanding issues in a strategic package but would not take part in “open-ended” negotiations; he stood ready to engage in “time bound, well structured, and results oriented” talks.

Turkey had publically expressed doubts as to the possibility of reaching a settlement given the Crans-Montana outcome and past failures but reiterated its support for a “sustainable settlement.”

Greece, for its part, Guterres said, has reiterated its commitment to finding a just and lasting solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis of UN Security Council resolutions and the framework set by Guterres while the UK emphasized its strong support for a comprehensive settlement and its readiness to do its part to achieve that goal.

The UNSG also mentioned the informal meeting between Anastasiades and Akinci on April 16 this year under the auspices of the deputy special adviser which confirmed the leaders remained at an impasse but was an important meeting after 10 months without direct contact.

The report then outlines the back and forth that began on April 30 when Akinci publically announced he was prepared to declare Guterres’ framework as a strategic package agreement if the Greek Cypriot side was ready to accept.

In response, Anastasiades issued a written statement on May 2, in which he replied that if Akinci accepted the Guterres’ framework, “as it was presented to the sides on July 4, this is a positive development”.

He called on Akinci, and primarily Turkey to clarify whether they accepted specific provisions of the framework related to security and guarantees and foreign troops.

“These statements led to a further public exchange between the sides that suggested that the leaders had diverging interpretations of certain aspects of the framework. The consultations which I intend to launch through a senior UN official in the coming weeks will provide an opportunity for the sides to formally clarify where they stand on this issue” the report outlined.

“To both the leaders in Cyprus and to the guarantors, I continually expressed the willingness of the United Nations to support the process if and when they were ready to resume meaningful talks with the requisite political will,” Guterres said.

Tensions over hydrocarbons were also noted in the report including Itanlian energy company Eni, when on February 9 it was prevented from accessing a planned drilling area in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone by Turkish military ships.

“In mid-March, the ENI drillship departed the Eastern Mediterranean without having been able to conduct its intended exploratory drilling”.

The UNSG said he was closely monitoring developments over hydrocarbons disputes.

“I reiterate that natural resources found in and around Cyprus should benefit both communities and should provide a strong incentive to find a durable solution to the Cyprus problem”.

“With new rounds of exploratory drilling expected to take place before the end of the year, I urge restraint and reiterate my call for a peaceful resolution of differences and for serious efforts to be made to avoid any further escalation and defuse tensions”.

Guterres said he remain convinced that a comprehensive settlement would bring substantial benefits and opportunities to both communities on the island and would contribute to overall peace and stability in the region.

“At a strategic and political level, a settlement would help repair decades of division and mistrust, soothe tensions that might escalate into conflict, and assist in cultivating neighbourly relations between traditionally adversarial countries in the eastern Mediterranean.”

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