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21 July, 2024
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UN envoy raises alarm on buffer zone militarization

Special Representative Colin Stewart urges stability ahead of 60th anniversary of UN presence

Source: CNA

Colin Stewart, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Cyprus and Head of UNFICYP, expressed concern over the increase of militarisation along the buffer zone and said the UN Secretary-General’s report on the peacekeeping mission in Cyprus reflects these concerns.

Replying to journalists' questions after a meeting on Thursday with Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides, at the Presidential Palace, Colin Stewart said that he would also brief the Security Council on any new developments after December 12, when the reporting period ends, on the 17th of January when he will be in New York.

When asked about developments in Pyla, a focal point of tension within the buffer zone, Stewart conveyed his concerns about issues that threaten the integrity of the buffer zone and several issues that upset the military status quo. He also said that he had discussed all of these issues both with President Christodoulides and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar.

“The main concern that we have is this increase of militarisation along the buffer zone because the main purpose for us being here is to maintain stability, to create conducive conditions so that the Cyprus problem can be solved”, he said.

He added that once the new UN Secretary-General’s envoy is appointed, they want her to have good conditions to move things forward.

When asked about his meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, Stewart said that they primarily discussed buffer zone issues and related matters and that they didn't discuss the Cyprus problem per se.

“I haven't seen any significant changes in the parties’ positions”, he added.

When asked about the delay in appointing the Secretary-General's envoy, Stewart said "I don't know if these things take time, but I'm sure it will happen very soon."

He also said he expected imminently the announcement of the Secretary-General's envoy and said that he looks forward to meeting her in New York.

"We are hoping for a positive 2024, as you know, 2024 marks the 60th anniversary of the UN presence in Cyprus. It's a very unhappy anniversary. We think that the Cyprus problem should have been solved long ago," Stewart remarked, emphasizing the urgency of finding a resolution to the longstanding conflict.

“I hope that this 60th anniversary which will happen on March 4th, will be a reminder of how important it is to solve the Cyprus problem”, he added.

Stewart met President Christodoulides on Thursday morning and Ersin Tatar on Wednesday and as he said, he explained to both of them his plans to travel to New York next week. He said that in New York he would be briefing the UNFICYP police and troop-contributing countries on the 10th of January and the Security Council on the 17th.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

Cyprus  |  UN  |  Turkey

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