The possibility of securing a negotiated settlement in Cyprus has continued to fall from an already low level, and without decisive action, the continuing dynamics in and around Cyprus could render future efforts unattainable, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said in his latest report.
The report, covering developments between June and December, is due to be circulated to the Security Council on Monday.
An advance copy of the Good Offices Mission report, obtained by the Cyprus Mail, shows that Guterres is concerned over where the Cyprus issue is headed.
He said a continued lack of political progress has significant implications for all Cypriots and called on all parties to refrain from any unhelpful actions and actively seek solutions through dialogue.
“Without decisive action, continuing dynamics in and around Cyprus and electoral timelines could render future efforts to reach a mutually agreeable settlement to the Cyprus issue unattainable,” he said. The passage of time continues to complicate efforts to find a mutually acceptable solution in Cyprus
Guterres said the parties’ display of flexibility and firm political will was of paramount importance and he urged the two sides to engage constructively on finding and building common ground with a view towards resumption of meaningful peace talks.
“The negative rhetoric has continued throughout the reporting period with no harmonised messages that could resonate positively with both communities,” he said. “I note with concern that, during this recent period, the positions of the communities appear to have become more entrenched and wider apart.”
Internal political developments on both sides have also created additional challenges, the UNSG said, with the two communities becoming more skeptical that any progress could be achieved.
Furthermore, certain steps taken, in particular with respect to the fenced-off part of Varosha, had contributed to deepening mistrust, both between the sides and among the two communities.
Guterres said the continued absence of substantive negotiations and the positioning of the sides regarding the basis of a settlement in Cyprus had begun to affect the work of the technical committees.
Despite the calls by the Security Council for the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders to provide the necessary political support and overall guidance to free the technical committees from obstructions to their work and enable them to function effectively, decisions on activities and projects proposed by the committees, in some cases, began to mirror the lack of common ground on the way forward with respect to the peace talks, he added.
The UN Secretary-General feels that the regular meetings and intervening contacts provided an important avenue for discussion on issues of concern, including with a view to building trust and common ground. His staff meet weekly with the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot coordinators of the technical committees to keep the dialogue open, discuss the above topics and explore ways to improve the functionality of the committees and address challenges.
“I urge the leaders and their representatives to move beyond present challenges, including those related to terminology and, instead, provide practical and political support and guidance to all the committees with a view to enabling the full reinvigoration of their work,” Guterres said.
“These mechanisms of dialogue and rapprochement are of particular importance and can, in the absence of fully-fledged negotiations, rekindle hope among the population that progress between the parties can indeed still be made.”
With respect to the regional situation, he said the current reporting period was characterised by a renewed uptick of tensions, including with respect to planned hydrocarbons and energy cooperation related activity and maritime zone claims in the Eastern Mediterranean, and heightened rhetoric between guarantor powers Greece and Turkey
“I am concerned about the rising tensions in and around Cyprus and the broader Eastern Mediterranean region,” he said. “I stress again that natural resources in and around Cyprus should benefit both communities and constitute a strong incentive for the parties to find a mutually acceptable and durable solution to the Cyprus problem. I urge restraint by all parties and call for serious effort to be made to defuse tensions.”
Guterres said there was also a risk that the deepening of disparities between the two economies on the island may start eroding the basis for important convergences achieved in the past. “Hence, the need for more concerted efforts to tackle the economic fallout from the pandemic and other factors, while also promoting greater economic ties and increased intra-island trade,” he said.
“It is important that risks associated with the two economies further drifting apart be understood and acknowledged so that appropriate mitigating measures can be devised.”