UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that he would recommend extending the UNFICYP mandate for a further six months until 31 July, 2019. He also expressed his concern that not all agreed confidence building measures had been implemented by the two Cypriot communities.
“As I concluded in my latest report on my good offices, I believe that prospects remain alive for a comprehensive settlement within a foreseeable horizon. I also remain convinced that prior to deploying the full weight of my good offices, the sides should agree on a joint way forward”, he said. Guterres also pressed the leaders and the guarantor powers to continue their constructive engagement with the United Nations Temporary Adviser Jane Holl Lute and with each other, to this end.
“I reiterate my observations from the good offices report that continued support for a horizon of endless process without result has ended; similarly, that consensus has emerged that the status quo is no longer sustainable”, Guterres said.
As regards agreements to put into effect confidence building measures, Guterres said:
“Implementation of the remaining 2015 confidence-building measures should be possible with the necessary creativity, determination and political will and I urge further work to overcome any technical or other obstacles to this end”.
Guterres noted that both sides in Cyprus had increased their military strength in the past six months covered by the report on UNFICYP. This has upset the former balance of military capabilities, he said.
He also noted that there had been a number of illegal civilian incursions of the Green Line. Some of which were intended to provoke reactions from the other side or the UN. The UNSG pointed to the urgent need for the police, military and civilian authorities on both sides to enhance cooperation and communications between themselves.
Guterres also said that in line with the repeated call of the Security Council, including most recently in resolution 2430 (2018), he was calling on the parties to work with UNFICYP to formulate a balanced package of military-confidence building measures, which could include de-mining and the further decommissioning of positions.
He did however commend both Cypriot community leaders for the opening of two more border crossing points at Derinya in Famagusta and at Lefke-Aplıç. Guterres encouraged them to continue opening more border crossing points, in particular in Nicosia, as recommended by both mayors.
The UNSG also praised the technical committees, which, despite political setbacks, continued their work. He noted that there remains considerable potential for bi-communal efforts through the committees.
“I urge the leaders to provide the Committees with the necessary flexibility and support to further intensify their efforts. Access to religious sites across the island remains a key element for the exercise of freedom of worship as well as for building trust and I continue to urge full access to such sites, in the north and in the south”, Guterres said.
Referring to the hydrocarbons issue, he warned that risks of further tensions remained.
“In this context, I reiterate that the natural resources found in and around Cyprus should benefit both communities and should provide a strong incentive to find a durable solution to the Cyprus problem”, the UNSG said.