In his first official statement since ending the Conference on Cyprus in Crans-Montana on July 7, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders to think long and hard about the next steps for the Cyprus problem.
“Given the disappointing outcome of the Conference, I invite the parties and in particular the leaders to reflect deeply upon the results and the possible road ahead,” Guterres said in his report to the UN Security Council on the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).
Talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders, the guarantor powers (Turkey, Greece and the UK), and the EU as an observer, broke down amid mutual recriminations on July 7 after nearly two weeks of talks focusing mainly on security and guarantees.
Since then, all sides have entered into the blame game since, eroding any hopes that the negotiations can be revived.
Guterres gives, amongst other headings, an historical overview of the Cyprus negotiations and the effect on the two communities of the presence of UNCFICYP. In the latter part of the document Guterres wrote:
“Given the disappointing outcome of the Conference, I invite the parties and in particular the leaders to reflect deeply upon the results and the possible road ahead. As to the United Nations, as facilitator of the process, its role in the framework of the negotiations remains at the disposal of the parties.
“I commend Mr. Anastasiades and Mr. Akıncı for their commitment throughout the more than two years of leader-led negotiations and acknowledge the efforts of the guarantor Powers to work with the sides to find a mutually acceptable solution. The fate of the process is in their hands.
I recommend that the Security Council extend the mandate of UNFICYP for six months, until 31 January 2018, at its current authorized strength. I should like to thank the 36 countries that have contributed, since 1964, either troops, police or both to the mission. I pay tribute to the 186 peacekeepers who lost their lives over that period in support of peace in Cyprus.
“I should like to express my gratitude to Elizabeth Spehar for her service as my Special Representative in Cyprus and Head of Mission and for her extensive and direct support to the talks as my Deputy Special Adviser. I also express my continued deep appreciation to my Special Adviser, Espen Barth Eide, for his unceasing efforts to facilitate the talks. Lastly, I extend my thanks to all the men and women serving in UNFICYP for the efficiency and commitment with which they have discharged the responsibilities entrusted to them by the Security Council.”
Despite the fact that there is added strain on the UN’s budget because the US wants to cut its contribution by 40%, Guterres indicated that the door was still open. In the same report, he said: “As to the United Nations, as facilitator of the process, its role in the framework of the negotiations remains at the disposal of the parties.”
In the coming weeks, a longer report is expected on the Good Offices mission, headed by Espen Barth Eide, which was charged with helping to solve the Cyprus problem. It may also announce whether or not the UN will close down its mission in Cyprus.
Some observers hope that this report will go into more details about why the talks broke down, who is to blame and will state whether they will continue trying to help Cyprus solve its long-standing problem.