Twice a year the UN Secretary-General issues a report about the UN operations in Cyprus, in which he recommends to the Security Council the extension of the Unficyp mandate for another six months. This report has been issued for more than 50 years, and although it is largely the same, cataloging the work done by Unficyp as well as the peacemaking efforts of the UN staff, it very rarely fails to spark an angry reaction from the Cyprus government and Greek Cypriot politicians, who can always be relied on to find something wrong with it.
The report usually “keeps equal distances from the two sides” or “lacks objectivity” or “does not apportion blame where it is due” or “tries to equate the internationally recognised Republic with an illegal entity,” among other things. The blame for the unfavourable report is usually put on Britain which has the responsibility of drafting it or on the UNSG’s special representative. All this has become part of Cyprus problem tradition, like the address by the Cyprus president to the UN General Assembly every September and the Turkish military parade in the north every July.
It could not have been any different this time. The government was dissatisfied with the report and blamed the special representative Elizabeth Spehar for her lack of objectivity in the references to the crossings, Turkish plans to open Varosha and missing persons. After all these years, we have still not come to terms with the way UN reports are put together and somehow still expect it to lay the blame squarely on the Turkish side for issues that have arisen in the reporting period. Apportioning blame is always avoided – it is not how the UN operates – so why do we expect it to happen now?
Nobody really does. It is all part of the political theatre. If the political establishment believes the UN is so biased, always taking the side of the Turkish Cypriots, why does it insist on peace talks within the UN framework? Why do our politicians actively seek the involvement in the peace efforts of an organisation that consistently shows a lack of objectivity and turns a blind eye to the transgressions of the Turkish occupying troops? Why do we want the UNSG to have a special representative in Cyprus that is invariably biased against the Greek Cypriots? And why, as soon as there is mention of a possible withdrawal of Unficyp, does the government pull out all the stops to ensure such discussions go no further?
We act as if the UN has signed a contract, with no expiry date, to deal with the Cyprus issue and put up with our constant criticism and attacks. It is a soft target for our politicians as it never responds to the criticism and abuse, but we suspect the biggest uproar will come when Unficyp finally pulls out, which might be sooner than we think.