The 39-page advance copy of the Report of the UN Secretary-General on his mission of good offices in Cyprus was obtained by Kathimerini Cyprus.
The report deals with the progress made between November 2019 and July 2020 towards reaching a consensus starting point for meaningful results-oriented negotiations leading to a settlement.
In his observations, Antonio Guterres noted that three years have passed since the intensive talks held in July 2017 at Crans-Montana, making a resumption of negotiations more challenging.
Reiterating the position expressed after the informal meeting with the Greek Cypriot leader, Nicos Anastasiades, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akıncı, in Berlin on 25 November 2019, Guterres said “I will continue to extend my efforts to achieve terms of reference to serve as a consensus starting point for phased, meaningful, and results-oriented negotiations at the earliest feasible opportunity. In this regard, I committed to explore with the Turkish Cypriot leader and the Greek Cypriot leader and with the Guarantor powers the possibility to convene an informal five-plus-UN meeting at an appropriate stage. I underscore the point that this time must be different.”
“As restrictive measures are being lifted, including at the ports of entry to the island, it is essential that movement within the island be allowed along with incoming travel"
“Although I continue to hold out hope that a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus is possible, the global advance of COVID-19 has, unfortunately, added to an already complex situation on and around the island,” the report stated.
Focusing on the developments and complications brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, the report outlines actions taken by both sides of the island.
“Following the outbreak of COVID-19 on the island, rapid measures were taken. While the two sides’ response to the pandemic was separate and uncoordinated, the two Cypriot leaders held several phone calls expressing support for each other’s efforts to face the outbreak and agreeing to engage in order to provide assistance to meet the humanitarian and medical needs of individuals island-wide,” Guterres said in the report.
“Members of the bi-communal Technical Committee on Health also remained in daily contact, exchanging information and providing assistance where necessary in an effort to maintain the ongoing dialogue and cooperation to face the challenges of this unprecedented crisis. Economic measures were taken by authorities on each side in an effort to address the devastating impact caused by the almost complete shutdown of the economy of both communities,” he added.
“As restrictive measures are being lifted, including at the ports of entry to the island, it is essential that movement within the island be allowed along with incoming travel. I encourage the leaders, with the support of the Technical Committee on Health and cooperation from relevant authorities on both sides, to work together and develop a comprehensive plan for the full reopening of all points of crossing.”
The UNSG made multiple references to the “continuous and escalating provocations” by Turkey, which “continues to act in an aggressive manner by, inter alia, turning to military threats, illegal drilling activities within the exclusive economic zone of the Republic, threatening to infringe in the fenced-city of Famagusta in contravention to Security Council Resolutions and proceeding with the signing of an illegal Memorandum of Understanding on the delimitation of maritime jurisdictions in the Mediterranean Sea with Libya.”
Polling shows residents of both sides seek a settlement
Guterres noted that “the prospects for peace ultimately lie in the hands of the two communities”, which must boost efforts to bridge differences.
“Despite the general mood of disengagement and skepticism on both sides, when the issues of reconciliation and renewed dialogue on the Cyprus problem are specifically raised in public polling, the results indicate that the two communities continue to feel that increased cooperation between them on a series of issues could bring them closer.”
“In recent polling carried out on behalf of my mission of good offices, the majority of respondents from both communities stated that the resolution of the Cyprus issue is of the highest importance or of high importance to them.”
The full report can be accessed here.