Cyprus on Friday delivered a demarche to the UN over statements attributed to Unficyp chief Colin Stewart blaming the Greek Cypriot side for the inaction on the Cyprus problem.
A demarche is an official political step by a government to protest or object to actions by a foreign government or international organisation.
According to a statement from the foreign ministry the demarche was delivered by Permanent Secretary Kornelios Korneliou.
“Mr Stewart categorically rejected the statements attributed to him, noting that they are not consistent with reality,” the ministry said. “He confirmed to Mr Korneliou the United Nations Mission’s and his own commitment to the impartial and objective exercise of the terms of their mandate.”
On Thursday, President Nicos Anastasiades challenged Stewart to refute the claims made in the article.
“I would like to believe that such things were not said,” Anastasiades told reporters when asked about the issue.
“Mr Stewart has been challenged to set the record straight. But if something like that was actually said by him, the least one can say is that we are not talking about a representative of the UN, but a representative of those who violate international law.”
The furore was sparked by an article in Turkish Cypriot newspaper Yeni Duzen earlier in the week, which attributed statements to Stewart that were made at a briefing of Scandinavian countries and non-permanent members of the security council about the Cyprus problem.
Commenting on the nature of the meeting with Korneliou on Friday, Unficyp spokesman Aleem Siddique told the Cyprus Mail: “The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr Colin Stewart met with the director general of the ministry of foreign affairs today. Mr Stewart addressed the concerns raised regarding recent media reports, rejecting the allegations of bias.”
He added that Stewart underlined the UN’s commitment to continue working with both sides with complete impartiality.
Earlier in the day the foreign ministry called on Stewart to make a specific denial of the Yeni Duzen report that quoted him blaming the Greek Cypriot side for the inaction on the Cyprus problem.
“We want the UN to stick to their mandate and keep hope alive,” ministry spokesman Demetris Demetriou told the Cyprus Mail. The report in the Turkish Cypriot newspaper alleged a chasm had grown between the two sides and the north had been economically and socially integrated with Turkey.
Asked to comment on the proposals that the Greek Cypriot side had made in an effort to return to negotiations, Demetriou said suggestions have been made about Varosha, and that in June there had been a cabinet decision to expand the Green Line regulation to include more products for trade.
In October 2022, commenting on the Green Line Regulation expansion, Stewart said that substantial progress is being made and at the current rate, official trade on the Green Line will double by the end of the year, including raw processed non-animal food products such as olive oil, tahini and carob syrup.
In addition, he said, the crossing points are starting to become more efficient and expressed hope that they will act more as a gateway to opportunities than a barrier to business.
“The issues [referenced in the article] are problematic, and they do not reflect the reality of the situation,” Demetriou also told CyBC radio on Friday morning, about the positions Stewart is alleged to have said about the Greek Cypriot side.
Asked whether the Greek Cypriot side has learned more about what was said at the meeting Stewart had with Scandinavian representatives and non-permanent security council member representatives in New York, Demetriou said: “It seems that the references attributed to Mr Stewart happened in the framework of an information session to the group of Scandinavian countries. We are currently gathering more information on what was said at this meeting.”
On Wednesday, the UN had already rubbished allegations of bias, following the reports. “We work closely with both sides impartially. we reject any allegations of bias. They are wrong and unfounded,” the UN tweeted on Wednesday night.
According to Yeni Duzen’s Cenk Mutluyakali Stewart claimed: “The northern part of Cyprus has now been integrated economically and politically with Turkey. The Greek Cypriot side is the one that needs to act to change the situation. However, all they do is complain, condemn and accuse.”