The absence of a resolution of the Cyprus problem is increasingly unsustainable, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, expressing concern that since the talks broke down in 2017 tensions on the island have progressively increased.
According to a draft copy of the UNSG’s report on Unficyp published by the Cyprus News Agency, Guterres said the lack of negotiations since July 2017 did not mean that the situation on the island remained unchanged, either at the political level or in the buffer zone, as he recommended extension of the mandate for another six months.
“I note with concern that since the closure of the Conference on Cyprus in Crans-Montana, tensions on the island have progressively increased over time, including, during this period, in the capital, Nicosia.”
The UNSG said he would continue to make efforts to achieve terms of reference that would serve as the starting point for “meaningful, and results-oriented negotiations at the earliest feasible opportunity.”
Guterres said the global pandemic has also contributed to making the situation in Cyprus worse.
“Although I continue to hold out hope that a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus is possible, the global advance of Covid-19 has, unfortunately, added to an already complex situation on and around the island.”
Rising tensions in and along the buffer zone, concerns over irregular migration and the flow of refugees both on the island and in the region, friction in relation to the possible opening of Varosha, hydrocarbons exploration and, increasingly, maritime boundary delimitation have strained relations among the parties to the Cyprus issue, he said.
The UNSG urged the sides to show restraint and avoid escalation.
“With regard to the question of Varosha, I reiterate that the position of the United Nations remains unchanged. The United Nations continues to be guided by the relevant Security Council resolutions and is available to assist in the implementation of any measures that are consistent with those resolutions. I also continue to stress that natural resources located in and around Cyprus should constitute a strong incentive to reach a mutually acceptable settlement to the Cyprus problem without any further delay. I urge all relevant parties to renew dialogue and explore possibilities for regional cooperation and call for serious efforts to be taken to defuse tensions.”
Guterres urged the two communities to engage in mutually beneficial cooperation, including through strong political and technical support to bi-communal technical committees such as those working on health-related, economic, crisis-related, and humanitarian issues.
“As restrictive measures are being lifted, including at the ports of entry to the island, it is essential that movement within the island be allowed along with incoming travel,” he said.
“I encourage the leaders, with the support of the Technical Committee on Health and cooperation from relevant authorities on both sides, to work together and develop a comprehensive plan for the full reopening of all points of crossing.”
He noted that neither community had consulted with the other when closing crossing points although acknowledging the exceptional circumstances.
“I am, however, encouraged by the leaders’ joint decision in May to work on the re-opening of crossing points for certain categories of individuals, in spite of the postponement of the agreement’s implementation by the authorities in the north. Moving forward, I encourage the leaders to develop a comprehensive plan for the full reopening of the crossings.”