The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has adopted the resolution accepting the extension of the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) until 31 January 2019.  This resolution is based on presumptions that are damaging to the reflection process initiated recently by the UN Secretary-General, which entails assessment of the situation and thereafter the consideration of the way forward. As a result, the resolution, unfortunately, contains components which are in contradiction with the approach put forth by the Secretary-General. Moreover, the resolution contains elements which are self-contradictory. The sole positive aspect regarding the resolution is that the existence and mandate of UNFICYP are fınally being questioned in a serious manner in the debates which took place in the process leading up to the adoption of the resolution. Although these debates may not have been reflected in the report itself, it will no longer be possible to avoid further questioning of UNFICYP – which has become the symbol of the continuation of the status quo in Cyprus. In summary, if not the resolution itself, the debates which took place during the process leading to the adoption of the resolution have shown us that Pandora’s Box has been opened. In Cyprus, it is necessary to question not only the substance and methodology as regards a settlement, but also UNFICYP, which has become an integral part of the status quo itself. As the TRNC Deputy Prime Ministry and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with the understanding that the way out of the status quo in Cyprus is only achievable through questioning the status quo itself, we wish to emphasize that this latest resolution of the Security Council which merely repeats itself has not come as a surprise.

By referencing another resolution from 20 years ago regarding the negotiations which took place even prior to the 2004 Annan Plan, which has no relevance to the latest negotiation process that in fact commenced in 2008, the resolution has been placed on an unnecessary and meaningless foundation. As known, the last negotiation process, which ended with the unsuccessful conclusion of the Cyprus Conference last year in Switzerland, was a process that commenced in 2008. It is utterly pointless to recall discussions which took place in the political process of pre-2008 – as if that process is still ongoing – particularly at a time when there is uncertainty regarding whether there is common ground or not and when the sides utter the same sentences but understand different things. This approach alone shows that the UN Security Council is incapable of making an accurate and sound assessment regarding the way forward in Cyprus. This and similar approaches are the very reason Cyprus has been condemned to lack of settlement. This frivolous approach is another injustice done to the Turkish Cypriot side, which has displayed political will towards a settlement in all processes to date and has, particularly, proven this will by approving the Annan Plan – the first ever plan in the Cyprus negotiations that was put to referenda.

The resolution attempts to undermine the fact that the Cyprus Conference, which was regarded as the final phase of the ongoing negotiations that have been continuing for more than 50 years, has collapsed. In fact, this understanding harms the very objective of the Secretary-General, namely the ability to conduct an unbiased and impartial reflection period in the aftermath of the unsuccessful conclusion of the Cyprus Conference. While the Secretary-General’s call is for a reflection period regarding the future and the way forward which will result in a decision, the Security Council’s attempt to prejudge the end result is entirely wrong. Furthermore, this approach also amounts to disregarding and rendering meaningless the reflection period initiated by the Secretary-General.

On the one hand, referring to a resolution which has lost its validity both in terms of substance and methodology, and on the other turning a blind eye to the reasons for the reflection period called upon by the Secretary-General, reduces the importance of the assessments which will be made by the UN consultant Jane Holl Lute at the end of her consultations.  However, the very same resolution calls upon the Secretary-General to inform the Security Council on the outcome of her consultations again is a contradiction in itself. As the Secretary-General has also stated, the expectation from this reflection period is for the sides to determine the reasons why the negotiation processes, which started 50 years ago, have been collapsing and determine a way forward.

This most recent Security Council resolution is an attempt to surpass the Secretary-General and is inconsistent with his recent initiatives. In general, the resolution supports the continuation of the status quo. However, the core of the Cyprus issue is the unwillingness of the Greek Cypriot side to share power and wealth with the Turkish Cypriot side, which led to the prevailing circumstances namely, the status quo. It is obvious that if the Security Council continues to ignore the existing realities and insists on presuppositions, reaching a just and viable settlement acceptable to both sides, which is already challenging, will become all the more impossible.

We will share our detailed views and concerns as regards the resolution with both the UN Security Council and the UN Secretary-General, as well as with all the relevant parties. Aside from these, we would like to emphasize that the current resolution, as in previous resolutions, makes the mistake of seeking the approval of only the Greek Cypriot side in the extension of UNFICYP’s mandate, an approach which is one of the biggest obstacles that is preventing a settlement in Cyprus hence our rejection of this resolution.