The UN believes that it is possible to find a mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus problem and we have not given up after 60 years, Colin Stewart, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus said Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters after informing the UNSG, he said that he had a very good meeting with the Security Council, they had a lot of questions, and showed a lot of support for the work of the UN in Cyprus. We talked, he said, about the work of the peacekeeping mission and there was “a very strong support for our work”.

He also said that there were also a lot of statements welcoming the appointment of the personal envoy of the UNSG for Cyprus and very good support and interventions from all the members of the Council.

Replying to a question, he said they discussed the situation in the buffer zone adding that “as you know from the report of the UNSG there are a number of issues in the buffer zone that challenge us and this was something that we, the SG emphasized in his report and that was the basis of the discussion with the council”.

Asked what the prospects are for renewing the Cyprus talks and if this can happen even in the next year, he said that he would not want to pre-empt the work of the envoy because that is precisely a question she will be focused on.

“But I can certainly tell you that the UN believes that it is possible to find a mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus problem, we have not given up after 60 years, we are marking 60 years in Cyprus in March which is a very unhappy anniversary, and it is a reminder that this problem has gone far too long. We certainly believe that there is potential which is why the SG has named an envoy and her job will be precisely I think to try to move forward”, he underlined.

Asked what he will be doing to promote a solution, he explained that in Cyprus the UN has two missions. “We have a peacekeeping mission and we have what is called the good offices mission and I lead both” he said adding that with the envoy, there will be a “major concerted effort” on the good offices side. “But the purpose of the peacekeeping mission is to avoid problems in the buffer zone that could disrupt political process and ideally create conditions that will be conducive for such a process. So that is why we have this dual effort” he added.

“Even on the good offices side a lot of work is done all the time to try to build bridges between the sides, build confidence, create a positive environment so that the envoy in her engagement can find some opportunities to move things forward” he pointed out.

Asked by a Turkish journalist if UNFICYP is considering physical intervention for the “violations carried out by the Greek Cypriot side” like the UN did in Pyla last summer, he said that “οur role is to try to maintain the integrity of the buffer zone. And especially maintain the military status quo as all part of an effort to make sure that tensions do not rise and create problems”.

At the moment, he added, “we are facing increased tensions. And what that means is that we have had violations to the buffer zone on both sides and in fact there has been an escalation in recent months which is well described in the UNSG report that this is a no win situation but it just escalates tension and creates problems for everybody”.

The peacekeeping mission, he pointed out, looks at every case on its own merits adding that one of the mistakes that is made is to equate different things in different parts of the buffer zone.

“There are different issues, there are different historical facts there are different sensitivities and the reason that we intervened in August in Pyla had to do with the specific sensitivities of that particular area, every other incident is weighted on its own merits and we protest in different ways according to the situation. But absolutely our purpose is to convince both sides that it is not in their interest to undermine the UN’s authority in the buffer zone or to degrade the integrity of the buffer zone itself” he stressed.

Asked if it is safe to assume that the “violations” of the Greek side are all without any sensitive issues, he replied “it is never safe to assume”.