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Cyprus Talks

Cyprus welcomes Unficyp renewal, accuses Ankara of trying to create confusion


The absence of a solution to the Cyprus problem was on Turkey, which is obstructing the process because it has other plans, the government said on Thursday, welcoming the extension of the UN force’s mandate for another six months.

Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said what was important was that the UN Security Council had extended Unficyp’s mandate but he refrained from commenting on the decision.

“Remarks can be made about the UNSG’s report and the Security Council decision but what is important is that the peacekeeping force will be here for the next six months,” Prodromou said.

During discussion of the report on Wednesday, the US warned that the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus cannot be part of a landscape that lacks a path toward a political solution.

“On principle, perpetual peacekeeping missions are unacceptable,” acting US permanent representative to the UN Jonathan Cohen told the Security Council.

“We are pleased that the new mandate reflects this view and that the secretary-general will examine how the many UN activities on Cyprus can be best configured in the current environment,” he said. “Unficyp and the UN’s overall presence in Cyprus cannot be a substitute for, or be a part of a landscape that lacks a path toward a political solution. We look forward to the secretary-general’s report particularly on this point.”

“We urge the leaders to proactively engage UN consultant Jane Holl Lute to negotiate the terms of reference for resuming negotiations,” Cohen said.

Turkey said late on Wednesday that the resolution did not make a realistic contribution to the efforts towards the settlement of the Cyprus issue and was not compatible with previous reports by the UN secretary-general.

“Both in his report on his Mission of Good Offices in Cyprus dated 15 October 2018 and his latest report on the UN operations in Cyprus dated 11 January 2019, submitted to the UN Security Council, UN secretary-general had emphasised the need for new ideas, without referring to a specific settlement model,” the Turkish government said.

“Despite this fact, in this most recent resolution, the UN Security Council has adopted a position which goes beyond the UN secretary-general’s views. Moreover, the UN Security Council has voiced prejudgments regarding the result of the ongoing contacts by the UN official assigned on a temporary basis by the UN secretary-general and the possible future shape of the settlement process.”

Prodromou said the fact that the Turkish foreign ministry referred to the UNSG wanting him to correct the Security Council apparently showed an approach to create confusion.

The spokesman said it was foremost the Greek Cypriot side who wanted a solution and if so much time has gone by without achieving one it was because “for decades now Turkey is blocking a solution apparently because it has other plans.”

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci criticised the fact that his side had not been asked when discussing renewal of the mandate.

Akinci said that during his time as leader the Turkish Cypriot side had never advocated a complete end to Unficyp’s mandate although that did not mean it should not be revised.

“UN Peacekeepers were first sent to Cyprus in March 1964. That means 55 years. Unficyp should not become a symbol of the status quo on the island nor should the mandate serve to further encourage the Greek Cypriot side’s reluctance to work towards a settlement,” he said.

Half of Unficyp’s financing is covered by Cyprus and Greece.

Of the possibility of resuming talks, Akıncı said the Turkish Cypriot side was open to the idea of discussing the notion of a loose federation, where the constituent states have more powers, as long as the process was to be result-oriented, subject to timetables and safeguarded the political equality of the two sides.

“Even if the word timetables is not used in all the latest UN reports and resolutions, the wording used, ‘foreseeable horizons’, implies it,” he added.

The UN Secretary-General’s envoy Jane Holl Lute is expected in Cyprus in the coming days in order to help formulate the terms of reference for the resumption of negotiations.

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