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Unficyp chief to meet leaders before UN Security Council vote

Head of Unficyp Elizabeth Spehar is to meet the two leaders this week before her trip to New York where she is to brief the UN Security Council on the peacekeeping force ahead of a vote for the renewal of its mandate for another six months.

According to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), Spehar will meet President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday morning and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on the same afternoon.

Spehar, who is also the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Cyprus, is to depart for New York on Saturday. She is to have meetings with high-ranking UN officials in New York including UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo, and UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean Pierre Lacroix.

Spehar is to also have meetings with officials whose countries contribute to the Unficyp military and police force, as well as with delegations of permanent Security Council members.

The UN official is also scheduled to travel to Washington to meet US officials, both for the Cyprus issue and the issue of the renewal of the term of Unficyp. These meetings, however, have not been confirmed due to the partial shutdown of the US Federal Government, CNA said.

Spehar will brief the UN Security Council on January 22. The United Nations Security Council resolution for the renewal of the mandate of Unficyp for another six months will be put to a vote on January 30.

Unficyp, set up in 1964, is one of the longest-running UN Peacekeeping missions. Its mandate has been renewed every six months since.

Even though the UN Security Council renewed Unficyp’s mandate last July until January 31, 2019, there have been concerns that it may have been the last time, following pressure, mainly from the US, to link the force’s evaluation with political developments. This point was not supported at the UNSC, however.

The US was reviewing funding for UN peacekeeping forces around the world which are deemed to be not absolutely necessary.

The government this week said that it expected the Unficyp mandate would be renewed by the UN Security Council. Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said that it would be “an absolute paradox” if things regarding Unficyp changed while an effort for the resumption of the negotiations for a Cyprus settlement is underway by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, through his envoy Jane Holl Lute.

The Turkish Cypriot side, however, which believes the role of Unficyp ought to be reassessed, has already launched efforts to convince UN officials.

According to Turkish Cypriot media, ‘Foreign Minister’ Kudret Ozersay on Monday met Lacroix, Di Carlo and the UK’s Permanent Representative at the UN Johnathan Allen in New York.

Daily Kıbrıs reported that Ozersay said he would try to influence the decision to be taken by third parties with various meetings, which he would hold with UN officials and representatives of UN Security Council member states.

Ozersay told Bayrak TV that Unficyp’s mandate and reason of existence needed to be re-examined due to the “radical changes” since 1964, when the force was sent to the island.

“The conditions of the 1960s do not exist now,” he said.

Taking into consideration other developments in the world, he said changing the status of Unficyp, which has allegedly become “a symbol of the status quo”, was inevitable.

Referring to the issue of Unficyp’s military camp in occupied Famagusta, Ozersay said that UN officials told him they would soon reply to the demand submitted by the breakaway regime in September for moving the camp from the city centre.

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