UN Special Representative in Cyprus and Head of the UN peacekeeping force on the island Elizabeth Spehar has expressed hope that calls for the sides in Cyprus to renew their political will and commitment to a settlement of the Cyprus problem will be heeded.
In her remarks on Tuesday at a ceremony during which troops from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay received medals in recognition of their service to the United Nations, Spehar said that “the Security Council in its recent resolution has urged the sides to renew their political will and commitment to a settlement and our own Secretary-General’s message has reinforced the notion that any sustainable solution has to come, first and foremost, from both leaders and more broadly, from Cypriots themselves. We hope that these calls will be heeded. For our part, we will continue to work for the goal of peace on this island,” she added.
Unfortunately, as you are all aware, there have been no peace negotiations since the closure of the Conference on Cyprus last July and, after so many years, hope for a solution to the Cyprus problem has been diminishing, Spehar noted.
At the same time, she went on, we can recall the tremendous advances in the recent negotiation process that began in May 2015 and the desire of many Cypriots to ensure that those gains are not lost.
Referring to UNFICYP she said that it plays a vital role in support of the process by contributing to the creation of conditions conducive to successful negotiations and to a sustainable outcome. “I’m pleased to report that, in its recent resolution, the Security Council acknowledged UNFICYP’s key role in this regard, as it renewed the Mission’s mandate for a further six months, until January 2019. We are encouraged by this continued support to UNFICYP– which is thanks in no small part to your work,” Spehar said addressing the peacekeepers.
She praised their contribution in the peacekeeping force, noting that as they carry their medals back to their countries they should rest assured that their dedication and contributions to calm and stability in Cyprus will not be forgotten.
Spehar particularly thanked the Government of Argentina and Argentinean peacekeepers as this is the 25th year of Argentina`s contribution to UNFICYP.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July last year, ended inconclusively.