The Security Council on Thursday renewed the mandate for the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus for another six months, but not without causing angst in both sides of the divided island.
It took only three minutes for a vote on Cyprus to take place during a Security Council session on Thursday, but statements from both sides of the divided island showed there was some dissatisfaction in both camps.
UN Resolution 2618 was adopted unanimously on Thursday, extending the mandate of UNFICYP for six months until end of July, while also expressing serious concern on a host of issues.
The Council expressed “serious concern at the reported encroachment by both sides into the buffer zone” that separate Greek Cypriots in the south from Turkish Cypriots in the north, while also citing an increase in unauthorized construction.
Other issues raised in the resolution included references to Varosha, the island’s fenced-off ghost town since 1974, when Turkish troops landed on the island following a short-lived Greek-inspired coup. The UN document called on reiterated that “no actions should be carried out in relation to Varosha” and went on to continue to “stress the need to avoid any unilateral actions that could undermine the prospects for a peaceful settlement.”
The Council expressed 'serious concern at the reported encroachment by both sides into the buffer zone' while also citing an increase in unauthorized construction
While specifics were not known as the final document was yet to be published, the resolution made reference to a presidential statement that condemned remarks in 2020 by Turkish and Turkish Cypriot leaders on the further reopening of the fenced-off area. It also expressed deep regret regarding unilateral actions that run contrary to other UN resolutions.
A Thursday evening statement from a Turkish Cypriot spokesperson insisted that decisions regarding the fenced-off area of Varosha were “taken in line with international law” and further stated that “property rights will continue to be fully respected.”
Greek Cypriot official Andreas Hadjichrysanthou, who serves as Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the United Nations, took to Twitter highlighting three issues in the resolution, saying the reference to Varosha was a call for a systematic and effective monitoring and reporting on ghost town.
Hadjichrysanthou also said the resolution pointed clearly to a Bizonal, Bicommunal, Federation as the basis for settlement, a model currently sought by Greek Cypriots.
But the Turkish Cypriot statement condemned the UN for “trying to impose an outdated, tried and exhausted ‘bi-zonal, bi-communal federation’ model to the two sides” within the resolution.
Another issue that remained unresolved was an ongoing effort to install a UN representative to help peace negotiations, with Greek Cypriots insisting the position ought to be for a Special Envoy who would report to the Council and Turkish Cypriots calling for a Personal Envoy who would report directly to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
Turkish Cypriots also took issue with the UN for not consulting with the community in the north regarding the UNFICYP mandate.
“The fact that the consent of the Turkish Cypriot side has not been sought while extending the mandate of the UNFICYP, is tantamount to the infringement of the United Nations’ own rules and principles,” the statement said.
But Greek Cypriots also took issue with the resolution on a different issue.
According to local media, Hadjichrysanthou said the Greek Cypriot side was disappointed over a paragraph regarding missing persons, with the permanent representative saying they were not fully satisfied by the omission of “stronger language” that would be “directed at Turkey.”
The resolution also expressed serious concern about the continued violations of the military status quo along the ceasefire lines.
According to minutes of the meeting, the Council expressed serious concern at the reported encroachment by both sides into the buffer zone and the increase in unauthorized construction.