Ban Ki-moon urges leaders to step up their efforts to solve Cyprob

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon strongly encourages both Presidents Eroglu and Anastasiades to sustain the current momentum of the Cyprus talks; to build on existing agreements and the gains achieved so far, and increase efforts towards reaching a comprehensive settlement based on the Joint Declaration of 11th February, ‘Famagusta Gazette’ reports.

Ban in his report on UNFICYP unofficially handed over to UN Security Council members on Tuesday said that that an important achievement had been reached when the two leaders agreed on the Joint Declaration this February.

 “I welcome the Joint Declaration as a clear statement by both leaders of shared principles and an invaluable basis for renewed talks, and am heartened by their stated determination to resume structured negotiations in a results oriented manner, under UN auspices,” he said.

As they take this renewed process forward, he added, “I strongly encourage both leaders to sustain the current momentum, build on existing agreements and the gains achieved thus far, and intensify efforts towards reaching a comprehensive settlement based on the joint declaration.”

Ban also noted that “the sides should refrain from negative rhetoric about the process and each other, should preserve the confidentiality of the process and work to build support for a settlement deal. I welcome the innovative step taken by the sides to engage in cross-visits of the negotiators to Turkey and Greece.”

“I hope that these efforts will be sustained in the months to come. I encourage the sides to explore further mutually acceptable confidence building measures that can contribute to a conducive environment for a settlement,” he added.

With regard to hydrocarbon finds offshore Cyprus, he said “it is important to ensure that any new found wealth will benefit both communities. I remain of the view that such developments constitute a strong incentive for all parties to find a durable solution to the Cyprus problem and should engender deeper cooperation for the benefit of all stakeholders in the region.”

The UN Secretary General said in his report that “the leaders have held two meetings (on 31 March 2014 and 2 June 2014) during which they have taken stock of the work conducted by their respective negotiators and have reiterated their commitment to continue to move the process forward. On 22 May 2014, the leaders agreed to speed up the process of negotiations toward a comprehensive settlement and to meet at least twice a month to this end.”

He noted that, “during their meeting on 2 June 2014, the leaders also discussed the revitalization of the technical committees, possible confidence building measures and other substantive issues related to different negotiating chapters.”

Ban referred also to the visits of Andreas Maroyiannis, Greek Cypriot negotiator, to Ankara and of Kudret Ozersay, Turkish Cypriot negotiator, to Athens. The negotiators also traveled to South Africa from 25-29 April 2014, in a visit facilitated by UNDP to gather lessons learned and experiences from the South African mediation process.

Referring to UNFICYP, Ban said that during the reporting period it continued to maintain the integrity and stability of the buffer zone. Despite minor military violations committed by the opposing forces, which resulted in occasional altercations with UNFICYP, relations between the latter and the opposing forces remained good, he added.

Moreover he said that “in a new development during the reporting period, the Turkish Forces deployed 28 close circuit television (CCTV) cameras along the ceasefire line in central Nicosia, some on previously unmanned observation posts. UNFICYP assesses that this confers a clear military advantage to the Turkish Forces in the areas concerned. UNFICYP protested this military violation on several occasions, at both military and political levels. Yet, the cameras remain in place,” he said.

Ban said that “while no progress was made in the implementation of military-related confidence building measures, neither of the opposing forces conducted any major military exercises during the reporting period,” adding that “the United Nations continues to hold the Government of Turkey responsible for the status quo in Varosha.”

He called on all parties – given the resumption of negotiations towards reunifying the island – to take concrete steps on a range of measures, as a sign of their commitment to the peace process.

“One step could be for both opposing forces to engage actively with UNFICYP on military confidence-building measures. This could include formal acceptance by both sides of the aide-mémoire of 1989, bringing to an end contestation of the United Nations delineation of the ceasefire lines. Within such a framework, the sides could also address the recent change to the status quo arising from the placement of CCTV cameras in Nicosia, which has increased tensions unnecessarily and is regrettable,” he noted.

Another step, he added, could be for both sides to facilitate, without delay, access to all remaining mined areas in and outside the buffer zone, in line with Security Council resolution 2135 (2014).

As regards the demining activity, Ban said the UN informed the two leaders that, following an inter-mission agreement between UNFICYP and UNIFIL, a Cambodian mine clearance team from UNIFIL would help clear two areas.

The team found an anti-tank mine on the Turkish forces ceasefire line near Mammari and completed its mine clearance tasks on 5 June, having cleared a total area of 7,032 square meters in the buffer zone.

With regard regard to the Committee on Missing Persons, Ban said that: “As at 15 June 2014, the Committee’s bicommunal teams of archaeologists had exhumed the remains of 1,090 individuals on both sides of the island. To date, the remains of 520 individuals have been returned to their respective families, including 46 during the reporting period. The total number of missing persons identified in 2014 now stands at 43. Following excavation of a military site in north Nicosia during the months of February and March, on 9 May the Committee conveyed a request to the Turkish Forces to excavate an additional site in a fenced military area in the north.”

He reiterated his call to the sides, including the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot mayors and municipalities of Nicosia as well as the Nicosia Master Plan, in cooperation with UNFICYP, UNDP, to adopt a holistic approach to the urban infrastructure of the old town through joint projects that could attract investment, and thereby transform the wider area. Such an approach would also contribute to a return to normal conditions in a manner that enhances security along the Green Line and promotes public confidence in the ongoing negotiations, he noted.

Ban commended the religious leaders for their ongoing dialogue, “which has delivered tangible results for Cypriots, including the opening of some locations of worship for the first time in decades,” and the business leaders from Cyprus, Greece and Turkey who have joined together for the first time under the Nicosia Economic Forum. “I encourage their efforts to promote private sector initiatives, which could have a positive effect on the continued regrettable low number of people crossing the buffer zone. I encourage the respective football federations to put into practice their earlier agreement for greater cooperation.”

Ban said that he would continually keep the operations of UNFICYP under close review, taking into account developments on the ground and the views of the parties, and would revert to the Council with recommendations, as appropriate, for further adjustments to the UNFICYP mandate, force levels and concept of operations as soon as warranted.

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