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UN Security Council urges de-escalation in Cyprus

A UN vehicle is pushed out of the way by a Turkish Cypriot vehicle in Pyla
UN vehicle pushed out of the way by a Turkish Cypriot vehicle in Pyla in August

Socio-economic inequalities in Cyprus risk “further estrangement” between both sides, the UN Security Council cautioned in its latest resolution renewing the mandate for the UN’s peacekeeping force (Unficyp) for another year.

It called for the Technical Committee on Education to restart, and tensions to de-escalate as a number of a changes were observed in its latest resolution announced on Tuesday, compared to that adopted in January 2023.

A significant change lies in the reference to the appointment of the UNSG’s personal envoy, which the UNSC welcomes, calling on both sides to engage in talks with Maria Angela Holguin as part of the efforts to find common ground that can lead to the resumption of talks.

The UNSC also urged “both sides and all involved parties to take steps to de-escalate tensions in and around the buffer zone, underlining the importance of respect for the integrity and inviolability of the buffer zone and Unficyp’s mandated authority.”

Another observed change is the direct reference over risks over socioeconomic inequality, described as a risk which can lead to “further estrangement on the island”.

The UNSC linked this to proposals to further strengthen trade and called for the opening of new crossing points and the elimination of obstacles to trade.

It says that the UNSC “welcomes the continued flow of trade across the Green Line, while noting that trade levels have not yet reached their full potential”.

The council also encouraged further progress on the removal of remaining obstacles and the opening of new crossing points, as well as expanded bicommunal contact.

Another observation lies in the different terminology surrounding the violations of the military status quo along the ceasefire lines. Last year, the wording referred to “noting with concern” which has now been changed to a ‘condemnation’ from the UNSC.

This also includes the encroachment by both sides into the buffer zone and the risks associated, as well as the reported increase in both the number and severity of military violations and unauthorised construction.

According to CNA, the Greek Cypriot side has said it is satisfied by the council’s wording on Pyla, as it condemns the attack on Unficyp members last August. Parties are called on to cooperate for the implementation of the understanding reached on issue.

A reference is also added to “move forward violations” which are indirectly attributed to forces in the north. This is considered to be a response to the government’s request.

The UNSC “notes that the Security Council recognises Unficyp’s delineation of the buffer zone and expresses particular concern over the reported trend of repeated move forward violations across the northern ceasefire line and challenges to the status quo of the Buffer Zone in certain areas.”

Lastly, the council also urged Unficyp to strengthen its efforts to monitor and counter both disinformation and misinformation.

 

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