Nicosia scored a diplomatic victory on Wednesday on an UNFICYP draft resolution, after members of the Security Council asked to retain narrow language on a federal solution and remove references suggesting a federal framework could be room for finding common ground.
Days of intense discussion behind the scenes at the United Nations Headquarters in New York came to an end on Wednesday, a day before the Security Council was scheduled to vote on a draft resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus for another six months, until 31 January 2022.
Following two rounds of negotiations on 23 and 27 July, Great Britain ended up revising a first draft of the resolution with changes lobbied by Nicosia.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, amendments of specific references received support from several members mainly USA, China, India, and Ireland.
Nicosia keeps BBF references narrow in UNFICYP draft
An earlier reference noted that a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation (BBF) provided a framework for a variety of possible arrangements, suggesting there was room for finding common ground. Britain reportedly argued the wording of their statement was addressing concerns of the two sides, the Greek Cypriots in the south and the Turkish Cypriots in the north of the divided island.
But most members sided with Nicosia’s position that the Council ought to remain committed to its established position on a narrow definition of seeking a BBF solution, with the “common ground” reference ultimately not retained in the draft text.
The Cyprus News Agency reported that Britain initially had a phrase stating that BBF parameters were broad enough to cover a number of practical and legal regulations, but in the second draft the phrase noted “these parameters provide a clear framework for a range of arrangements."
Anastasiades accuses Britain of being "revisionist"
This week Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades had criticized Britain, the penholder on Cyprus, for adopting a “revisionist” approach.
During an interview with Euronews in Athens, when the issue of searching for common ground was brought up, the Greek Cypriot leader said the United Kingdom and special UN Cyprus envoy Elizabeth Spehar were submitting proposals that could be seen as an attempt to bridge the gap but essentially they aimed at gradually favoring Turkey.
An earlier draft said BBF provided a framework for a variety of possible arrangements, with Britain arguing the wording was addressing concerns of both sides and left room for finding common ground
Another change in the text emerged in a paragraph where there was a reference to a Five-Plus-One informal meeting in Geneva, a high profile sit down between the two Cypriot sides, guarantor powers Greece, Turkey, and Great Britain, and moderated by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
CNA said Britain initially wanted to add that “the Council notes with regret that the two sides failed to reach sufficient common ground for the resumption of informal negotiations.”
But in the new draft text, the equalizing reference on two sides was removed, according to CNA, with the paragraph ending up saying that the UNSC noted with regret that "sufficient common ground could not be found at the meeting to allow for the resumption of formal negotiations at this time.”
Greek Cypriots insist that peace talks ought to restart on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal, federal framework, while Turkish Cypriots in the north have introduced a novel approach based on a two-state paradigm, accusing the south of not being sincere in sharing power in a federal country.
Varosha reference in draft includes "condemnation"
Another amendment in the UNFICYP draft included reference to Varosha and a recent Presidential Statement, which initially expressed concerned but later condemned Turkey and Turkish Cypriots over an announcement to reopen Varosha.
The Security Council was asked by Nicosia to tackle the Varosha issue after the Republic of Cyprus requested closed consultations to take place following a Turkish Cypriot announcement to reopen part of the ghost town in the north, also known as Maras in Turkish, a move heavily criticized by Greek Cypriots in the south.
Ankara issued a response to the statement, backing Turkish Cypriots who accused various countries of basing their decision on “unfounded claims” and views that were “inconsistent with the realities on the Island.”
An earlier draft of the Presidential statement had expressed concern about the announcement, but the language was strengthened to express the Council’s condemnation of the announcement at the request of China and India.
During discussion on the UNFICYP draft resolution, there were reports of some debate taking place as to how the 23 July presidential statement should be reflected.
Reports said the draft resolution initially described the presidential statement as only addressing the ongoing developments in Varosha but several Council members requested that the final draft recalled the presidential statement in greater detail, reiterating its condemnation of the 20 July announcement.
UNFICYP, comprising military and civilian personnel from various contributing countries, arrived in Cyprus in March 1964 following intercommunal fighting. It has been renewed ever since every six months.