UN chief recommends renewal of UNFICYP mandate

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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has recommended the Security Council extend the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus mandate for another six months, until July 31.

He reiterated his commitment to exploring with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and the guarantor powers (Greece, UK and Turkey) the possibility to convene an informal five-plus-UN meeting at an appropriate stage.

“In this regard, I again urge the leaders, the guarantor powers and other interested parties to make productive use of the coming period,” Guterres said in his report on UNFICYP.

The Security Council will be briefed by the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative in Cyprus and head of UNFICYP on January 20, while the adoption of the relevant resolution has been scheduled for January 30.

The UNSG said in his report that “during the period under review, UNFICYP continued to play a crucial role in monitoring, engagement and liaison in response to violations and low -level tensions. Its continued presence remains essential to the creation of conditions conducive to a political settlement.”

He added: “The lack of negotiations since July 2017 does not mean that the situation on the island remains unchanged, both at the political level and in the buffer zone.”

Guterres noted that “since the closing of the Conference on Cyprus in Crans-Montana, over time, tensions on the ground have progressively increased.”

After his meeting with Anastasiades and Akinci on November 25 in Berlin Guterres still remains optimistic a settlement can be achieved.

I welcome the leaders’ commitment and determination to achieve a settlement based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality.”

“As acknowledged in Berlin, this time must be different…I again urge the leaders, the guarantor powers and other interested parties to make productive use of the coming period.”

On the energy issue, Guterres said that he continues to monitor developments relating to hydrocarbons closely and with concern.

“I have repeatedly stressed that the natural resources found in and around Cyprus should benefit both communities and constitute a strong incentive for all parties to find a mutually acceptable and durable solution to the Cyprus problem.

Bearing in mind that all parties have expressed their commitment to this objective, I reiterate my call for serious efforts to avoid any further escalation and to defuse tensions.”

“Developments in the region during the reporting period led to a marked increase in tensions, with few prospects of subsiding.” (source CNA)