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26 May, 2024
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Did we get Colin Stewart wrong?

Behind the grin: Colin Stewart's strategic moves and Guterres' backing

Pavlos Xanthoulis

Pavlos Xanthoulis

In a short period of time, from the day he assumed his duties as the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy, Mr. Colin Stewart has managed to be at the center of attention. He has made decisions and initiated actions that impose a cost on Nicosia, which now finds itself with its back against the wall:

- It is not accidental that during Mr. Stewart's tenure, the Republic of Cyprus has lost territory in the buffer zone for the first time. Not due to an expansion of the positions of the occupying forces, as has happened in other cases, but due to a "concession" towards the Turkish side, transferring parts of the buffer zone under the authority of the United Nations. And Mr. Stewart, who has the obligation to monitor the buffer zone and should function as the guardian of Security Council resolutions, is responsible for this.

- Similarly, it is not accidental that Mr. Stewart, after "conceding" a part of the buffer zone to the Turkish Cypriot football group Cetinkaya, refused – during the previous administration – to go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), citing illness. However, this illness didn't prevent Mr. Stewart from dining with EU officials the previous evening and then traveling from Cyprus to Canada the next day.

- Under the new administration as well, Mr. Stewart showed a willingness to continue on the same course. He took a step further and granted permission to the Cetinkaya Turkish Cypriot group to use a part of the buffer zone for "sports" purposes. When the new government called him for a meeting, he went but, according to information from 'K', he rejected the government's proposal. He claimed that the Republic of Cyprus has no jurisdiction over the buffer zone, that the United Nations has authority, and that the status of the buffer zone will be decided in negotiations. He also didn't hesitate to mention that he smiles when he receives letters from MFA.

In any case, regardless of the government in power, Mr. Stewart feels he can do whatever he wants without any consequences. And he is certainly neither crazy nor did he wake up one morning and decide on his own to cede parts of the buffer zone to the Turkish side. Colin Stewart acts with the backing of the UN Secretary-General. If he didn't have this backing, he would be objective, which he is not. And he would be collected, which he is not.

So, the one who Nicosia sees in front of it, who mocks it when he receives letters and makes ironic remarks, is not just Mr. Colin Stewart on his own, a mere UN employee. He is Mr. Stewart acting in "concert" with the backing of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Guterres provides cover for his actions in the buffer zone. He signs the renewal reports of the UNFICYP, which are written by Mr. Stewart, fully aware that the agreed framework for a solution of a bicommunal/bizonal federation has vanished. Just as Mr. Guterres is fully aware of Mr. Stewart's ideas about legitimizing the illegal Tymbou airport, without any exchange for the Greek Cypriot side, as well as the complacency with which he treats the gradual settlement of enclosed Famagusta by Ankara.

This is Mr. Colin Stewart's agenda. On behalf of Mr. Guterres. Therefore, let's not misunderstand him. And let this government start making appointments with him in cafes, just as the previous government did, in order to make his actions more palatable and our digestion smoother.

[This opinion piece was translated from its Greek original and may not convey the exact tone of the original Greek article]

Cyprus  |  problem  |  Turkey  |  UN  |  Pyla

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