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No certainty of keeping Unficyp after current six-month mandate, Mavroyiannis says

UNFICYP has been in Cyprus since 1964

There is no guarantee that Cyprus will be able to retain the UN peacekeeping force for another six months when its mandate expires at the end of January, Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis has said.

According to CNA Mavroyiannis believes that a lot of work needs to be done in the immediate future to prove that there is a direct link between the need to retain Unficyp and efforts to reunite the country.

“Many question the need to continue renewing the mandate of the UN peace-keeping force here. This is nothing new but in the recent past these doubts have intensified and it is not certain whether we will manage in the next six months to keep the UN force in Cyprus,” he said.

“We have to find ways to prove the direct relation between Unficyp’s presence and the Cyprus peace effort and this calls for a hell of a lot of work in the immediate future. This is one of the reasons I have referred to ‘end of an era’ because the traditional understanding of what the status quo is no longer applies,” Mavroyiannis said.

He also believes that the Cyprus issue is at a “very critical turn” and that the UN Secretary-General will probably move in the direction of properly preparing any future conference on Cyprus, which meant it might not happen “for the time being”, Mavroyiannis said.

Speaking Wednesday night at an event of the BPW (Business and Professional Women) Nicosia, on recent developments and prospects, he said: “We are now facing a very critical juncture in the Cyprus problem,” and repeated a comment he made previously about the “end of an era.”

Referring to the role of the Antonio Guterres’s special envoy for Cyprus, Jane Holl Lute, he said: “Ms Lute wants only one thing – to establish whether the preconditions for a result orientated process are in place, in other words, she is asking the sides involved to explain what has changed since July 2017” which could lead to a successful outcome of a new conference on Cyprus.

Mavroyiannis referred to the necessary basis to continue, saying that everybody had to accept to work on the basis of Security Council parameters, to commit themselves to the acceptance of the good offices mission of the UNSG and to agree on the methodology and the negotiating manner.

Reiterating that no strict timeframes must be set, he said progress in negotiations would dictate timeframes, acknowledging that a conference on Cyprus would last some days.

He said the Greek Cypriot side could not go along with a Turkish Cypriot demand to define the terms of a divorce, should negotiations fail, a position the Turkish Cypriot leader put forward in Crans-Montana during talks last year that ultimately failed.

“My personal assessment is that I doubt whether all this is sufficient for the UNSG to call for negotiations, at least for the time being,” he said, adding that Guterres is likely to work towards ensuring that a new conference on Cyprus is properly prepared.
A new conference would have to concentrate on Guterres` framework, which is nothing more than the SG’s own assessment of what he considers to be politically feasible which would allow the peace process to move forward, Mavroyiannis said

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