President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday described the statement issued by UNFICYP as “unfortunate”, noting that such announcements go beyond its mission as a peacekeeping force.
On Thursday, UNFICYP expressed concern over the ongoing disruption caused by the Republic of Cyprus’ government to close four checkpoints as a coronavirus protection measure.
It also stressed that the two sides need to maintain cooperation in dealing with the health concern posed by the potential spread of COVID-19, noting that the role of the bi-communal Technical Committee on Health is critical and should be utilized to the fullest.
As such, the UNFICYP announcement reinforced the call previously made by the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci for an end to unilateral moves that were not jointly agreed upon by the Bicommunal Committee, as the two leaders said they would do when they co-chaired a meeting of the Committee in February.
Asked to comment on the UNFICYP announcement on Friday, Anastasiades said “I did not want to comment on the unfortunate interventions of the peacekeeping force which is called in its mission to carry out a different role,” adding that “its mission is to maintain peace, which it has successfully achieved to date.”
He went on to say that “interventions which involve policies of a sovereign country, recognized by the UN and an EU member, are, I believe, unfortunate.”
Anastasiades said that cooperation between the two communities exists, but the responsibility for taking decisions lies only with the recognized entity, the Republic of Cyprus.
“I believe we must all comply with the emergency situation based on guidelines by the WHO, as well as other EU bodies, and this is what the Cyprus Government is doing.”
Anastasiades’ comments divert from the position expressed on Thursday by the Health Minister, who said his interpretation was that the UNFICYP announcement was not a critique of the Government’s measure, noting he reached “different conclusions.”
He also said that the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Health “has an explicitly advisory role,” asserting that “we [the Government of the Republic of Cyprus] take political decisions, we are responsible for the protection of public health, and we will be called to respond when something is implemented correctly or wrongly, and not the Bicommunal Committee.”