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Spehar briefs Security Council on Unficyp

UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative Elizabeth Spehar

The UN Secretary General’s Special Representative in Cyprus, Elizabeth Spehar, briefed the UN Security Council members on Monday night on the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (Unficyp) and developments in the Cyprus issue.

The briefing covered the whole spectrum of issues in the reports, including cooperation between the two sides to address the Covid-19 pandemic, exploration for hydrocarbons and tension in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus, developments in the buffer zone, and what needs to be done to promote cooperation in military matters.

A diplomatic source said the common denominator of the briefing and interventions was the concern over violence against peacekeepers, as well as restrictions in Unficyp movements. Another issue brought up was the crossing points – everyone wants them to reopen and cooperation was limited during the pandemic.

Regarding cooperation mechanism, the members of the Security Council pointed out it was good for it to proceed and see progress. Spehar, according to the source, said there was a will on both sides and reminded the proposal she had put forward on May 1.

Referring to the Cyprus issue and prospects of resuming negotiations for a settlement, Spehar is reported to have said that there was a will to hold an informal 5+ meeting but that this could not take place before the elections in the north, scheduled for October. Members of the Security Council expressed disappointment and reiterated their call for goodwill and progress.

Turkish threats to colonise Varosha were also raised by several representatives, calling for the status of the fenced-off town to be respected. Many referred to the violations by Turkish troops in Strovilia. Both issues are expected to be addressed in a resolution to be put to the Security Council on July 29.

The report is currently at the level of the five permanent members and a revised document is expected within the day, which may be circulated to the other members. The document follows the philosophy of the last UN resolution on Unficyp, with emphasis on the crossing points and cooperation between the two sides.

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