UN Secretary-General António Guterres has recommended that the Security Council extends the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in divided Cyprus for another six months – that is up until July 31.
This is what an unofficial copy of the UN chief’s UNFICYP report which was circulated on Saturday in the Security Council said.
He justified his recommendation saying UNFICYP continues its contribution to peace and stability and the creation of conditions conducive to a political settlement.
The Secretary-General also noted that the force will continue to monitor the evolving situation and adapt its operations to implement its mandate effectively.
Guterres calls upon opinion leaders on the island, from the political, commercial, religious, artistic or other spheres, to contribute to bringing the communities closer together as a necessary element of building a constituency for peace and laying the foundation for a sustainable solution to the Cyprus problem.
“Regional dynamics notwithstanding, in light of significant societal skepticism and disengagement with regard to the peace process, coupled with an estrangement between the communities that has now run over three generations, redoubled efforts are required for Cypriots to re-engage for peace and bridge the divide between them.
“Conversely, acts that are aimed at provoking the other community or inciting hatred need to be addressed and clearly denounced by political and other leaders” he noted.
Moreover, he said the Security Council has repeatedly called upon the leaders to refrain from using rhetoric that might deepen the mistrust between the communities, insisting on the importance of improving the public atmosphere and preparing the communities for a settlement while also highlighting the importance of peace education.
“Forty-five years after the ceasefire and de facto division of Cyprus, most of those pillars of reconciliation, unfortunately, remain to be built. Consequently, I echo once more the calls of the Council in this regard as well as its support for greater civic engagement and trustbuilding across the divide.
“I also urge the leaders to more explicitly encourage contact and cooperation between the two communities and to provide direct support to people-to-people initiatives, as evidence of their genuine commitment to a solution” he added.
As in his Good Offices Mission report, António Guterres refers extensively to the pandemic in his report on UNFICYP. “In Cyprus, COVID-19 continued to have profound negative repercussions for the two communities, both in terms of health and socio-economically.
“The unprecedented dimension of the threat posed by the pandemic has, notably, resulted in a further separation of the communities while efforts to identify acceptable ways to jointly tackle the virus and its multiple effects on the lives of Cypriots have been limited.
“As mentioned in my previous report, there are existing mechanisms, mostly underutilized, that could precisely address these issues if they received sufficient political support” he also said.
The UN chief calls on leaders to enhance their support for the technical committees and, in the specific context of COVID-19, look particularly at the committees focussing on health, economic and commercial matters, crisis management, gender and humanitarian affairs and their potential role in contributing to the alleviation of the effects of the pandemic island-wide.
Cyprus is divided since a 1974 invasion by Turkey which still maintains troops in the breakway northern part of the eU-member islad.