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20 June, 2024
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End of an era might be near for UNFICYP warns Cyprus negotiator

Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis warns of critical juncture in the decades old peace process

Newsroom / CNA

The negotiator of the Greek Cypriot side Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis believes that a lot of work needs to be done in the immediate future to prove that there is a direct link between the need to retain the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus and the peace effort to reunite the country. He also said that Cyprus is faced with a very critical turn in the peace effort and that the UN Secretary General will probably move in the direction of ''preparing properly'' any future conference on Cyprus.

Speaking last night at an event of the Business and Professional Women Nicosia, on recent developments and prospects of the Cyprus problem, he said that the present state of affairs is affected by the fact that internationally, there is a rather strange climate, in the sense that for the first time since WWII the UN collective system of security is being questioned.

It is not certain whether we will manage in the next six months to keep the UN force in Cyprus

Referring to the situation in Cyprus’ northern Turkish occupied areas, he said developments are “very dramatic”, noting that the process of integration of this part of the country with mainland Turkey is progressing faster than at any other time in the past.

In his presentation, Ambassador Mavroyiannis analysed in depth the current situation in the Cyprus problem and talked in detail about the negotiations of July 2017 in Crans Montana. “We are now facing a very critical juncture in the Cyprus problem,” he said, and repeated a comment he has made in the past about “end of an era.” Referring to the role of the Antonio Guterres’s special envoy for Cyprus, to help rekindle the stalled peace process, he said: “Ms Lutte wants only one thing – to establish whether the preconditions for a result orientated process are in place, in other words she is asking the sides involved to explain what has changed since July 2017” which could lead to a successful outcome of a new conference on Cyprus.

Mavroyiannis referred to the necessary parametres to continue the peace effort, saying that everybody has to accept to work on the basis of the Security Council parametres, to commit themselves to the acceptance of the good offices mission of the UNSG and to agree on the methodology and the negotiating manner. Reiterating that no strict timeframes must be set, he said progress in negotiations will dictate timeframes, acknowledging at the same time that a conference on Cyprus would last some days, as everybody knows.

He said the Greek Cypriot side cannot go along with a Turkish Cypriot demand to define the terms of a divorce, should negotiations fail, a position the Turkish Cypriot leader put forward in Crans Montana.

“My personal assessment is that I doubt whether all this is sufficient for the UNSG to call for negotiations, at least for the time being," he said, adding that Guterres is likely to work towards ensuring that a new conference on Cyprus is properly prepared. A new conference will have to concentrate on Guterres` framework, which is nothing more than the SG’s own assessment of what he considers to be politically feasible which would allow the peace process to move forward.

At the Crans Montana talks nobody questioned Guterres’ logic that if all six issues - outlined in his framework - are addressed as a package and are agreed on, a decisive push towards a solution will be created. The six issues, he explained, relate to the full and immediate abolition of the 1960 treaty of guarantee, the full withdrawal of Turkey’s occupation troops, territory, property, participation in governance and the rights of Turkish nationals in Cyprus. This, he pointed out, is the current state of affairs, which is influenced by the fact that internationally there seems to prevail a “rather strange climate” in the sense that for the first time the UN collective system of security is being questioned.

As far as Cyprus is concerned, he noted, “many question the need to continue renewing the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force here. This is nothing new but in the recent past these doubts have intensified and it is not certain whether we will manage in the next six months to keep the UN force in Cyprus.”

“We have to find ways to prove the direct relation between UNFICYP’s presence and the Cyprus peace effort and this calls for a hell of a lot of work in the immediate future. This is one of the reasons I have referred to ‘end of an era’ because the traditional understanding of what the status quo is no longer applies,” Ambassador Mavroyiannis said.

Replying to questions about the EU role in the peace process, he said efforts are underway to link EU involvement with the overall discussion on Turkey’s relations with the EU, which would probably relate to Ankara’s customs union agreement. In this framework, he explained, the effort focuses on drafting a framework to include specific EU demands of Turkey which would allow the EU to satisfy Ankara on other points.

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