By Dr Andrestinos N. Papadopoulos, Ambassador a.h.
The Report of UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on his mission of good offices in Cyprus, submitted recently to the Security Council, contains references and omissions which serve political expediencies.
One could not interpret differently references to “the north and the south”, “the authorities in both communities” and the omission of a reference to the basis of the settlement, which is a bicommunal, bizonal federation.
Until June 2019, such references were included in his reports.
At a press conference on January 28, before the adoption of the latest Security Council resolution on UNFICYP, the Secretary-General, responding to a question by a journalist from the Turkish news agency Anadolu on whether the UN is open to new ideas or if he still supports a federally unified Cyprus, stated he has a mandate from the Security Council which explicitly refers to a bizonal, bicommunal solution, but this does not impede the interlocutors presenting their positions, now that there is a change in “the administration of northern Cyprus.”
He added that if there is a common agreement by the parties to enlarge the scope of negotiations, he is ready to go to the Security Council.
From the above, we observe there is no reference to the Republic of Cyprus, whereas one could easily detect the intention to upgrade the pseudostate with references such as ‘authorities’ and ‘administration’ of northern Cyprus, which run counter to Security Council Resolution 541 (1983), which considers, inter alia, the Turkish Cypriot UDI as “legally invalid”.
His statement at the press conference, that he is ready to listen to positions of the interlocutors, constitutes an encouragement of the Turkish Cypriot side to present their two-state demand.
He obviously knew that our side will not accept it, as well as the European Union, the U.S., and the United Kingdom.
As far as his intention to enlarge his terms of reference, we observe that it is the Security Council, the executive organ of the UN, which entrusts the Secretary-General to perform any function it considers appropriate, in accordance with Article 98 of the UN Charter.
It augers well, therefore, that the Security Council corrected the Secretary-General in its relevant Resolution, in the preamble and Operative Paragraph 1 enunciates that the achievement of an enduring, comprehensive, and just settlement of the Cyprus problem should “be based on a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality, as set out in relevant Security Council resolutions, including OP4 of its Resolution 716 (1991).”
Independently of these political expediencies, the good offices mission of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and his five predecessors, have a legal character which stems from the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.
Performing this duty, the Secretary-General should act under these principles, the norms of international law and UN resolutions.
This view was supported by former Secretaries-General Dag Hammarskjold and U Thant, who regarded “strict compliance with the aims and principles of the Charter was the sine qua non condition of every exercise of good offices by the Secretary-General”.
More importantly, the International Court of Justice, in its opinion concerning the “Expenses Case” of 1962, stated that “the validity of the United Nations actions should be tested in the light of the Charter’s aims.”
Moreover, distinguished international lawyers, such as the late Professor Sir Derek Bowett, took the view that when the Secretary-General acts under a specific resolution, it is his practice to consider it as binding terms of reference.
It is, therefore, inconceivable for the Secretary-General to accept proposals emanating from whatever quarters which run counter to the decisions of the International Court of Justice, the Charter, or the UN resolutions.
Given the above, our disappointment in the views expressed by Mr Guterres is fully justified, because Cyprus believes in the United Nations and has demonstrated on many occasions its dedication to the principles and values enshrined in the Charter.