Nicosia has welcomed a Security Council resolution that renewed the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Cyprus and also delved into other aspects of the Cyprus Problem, with Ankara crying foul and saying the UN violated its own rules.
In a resolution adopted unanimously on Thursday, the UN Security Council extended UNFICYP for another six months, with members stressing a “need to avoid any unilateral action that could trigger tensions on the island and undermine the prospects for a peaceful settlement.”
The resolution was seen as a diplomatic win for Greek Cypriots, after the Council included references to a Nicosia-sought Presidential Statement calling on Turkey and Turkish Cypriots to reverse all actions to reopen the abandoned town of Varosha and engage in future negotiations aimed at reunifying the divided island on a federal solution.
Varosha, currently under military status in the northern part of the island, was abandoned in 1974 and had been a ghost city until last year, when Turkey and Turkish Cypriot authorities allowed visitors to access previously fenced off parts of the area as construction took place to open a beach strip and rebuild roads.
The ghost town had been destined to return under Greek Cypriot administration as part of a negotiated peace deal between the two sides in cooperation with the island’s three guarantor powers, Greece, Turkey, and Great Britain.
'It is also outlandish and unrealistic... to dictate Turkish Cypriots the settlement parameters, which were tried and failed, by referring to thirty years old Council resolutions'
But UN-backed plans failed to reunifiy the island time and again, prompting Turkish Cypriots earlier this year to introduce a two-state paradigm as Greek Cypriots rushed to renew their commitment to a bizonal, bicommunal, federal model.
Greek Cypriots say resolution clear on who is to blame
A statement from the foreign ministry in the Republic of Cyprus said references and inclusions in the UNFICYP resolution was “sending a clear message as to why it has not been made possible to date to resume negotiations, and in relation to future efforts.”
The Greek Cypriot statement specifically said it was important that the Security Council reaffirmed all relevant resolutions on Cyprus, as well as the basis for a solution to the Cyprus problem,” while also “clarifying its position that the solution of the Cyprus problem must be based on a Cypriot state with one sovereignty, one citizenship and one international personality, with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded and which will consist of two politically equal communities, as stipulated in the relevant Resolutions.”
Turkey challenged the passing of the resolution saying it was “full of inconsistencies and disconnected from realities.”
In a statement issued by the foreign ministry, Ankara went on to say the passing of the resolution “ignores once again the will of the Turkish Cypriot people” by not seeking consent from Turkish Cypriots before extending UNFICYP, adding that the UN acted against its own rules and principles.
“It is also outlandish and unrealistic that the resolution attempts to dictate the Turkish Cypriot people the settlement parameters, which were tried and failed, by referring to thirty years old Council resolutions,” a Turkish foreign ministry statement said.
A lot of discussion had taken place behind the scenes at UN Headquarters in New York as Great Britain, the penholder of Cyprus, attempted to broaden language in the draft resolution to reflect a search for common ground between the two sides on the divided island, with Nicosia and allies in the Council pushing for specific references to remain narrowly defined strictly within previous UN parameters.
But Ankara called "on the Security Council and the international community to focus on reaching a settlement based on the realities, instead of serving the status quo on the Island."
UNFICYP, comprising military and civilian personnel from various contributing countries, arrived in Cyprus in March 1964 following intercommunal fighting and its mandate has been renewed ever since every six months.
Despite previous challenges by the United States during the Trump administration, which called for peacekeeping missions in the world’s trouble spots to be justified in terms of political developments, the extension of the mandate this year was expected to pass uneventfully.