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Turkish, Greek Cypriots should benefit natural resources in, around Cyprus: UN

Public confidence in possibility of securing settlement on island has remained low, says UN report

Betul Yuruk   | 05.07.2022
Turkish, Greek Cypriots should benefit natural resources in, around Cyprus: UN

UNITED NATIONS

The UN said the Turkish and Greek Cypriot administrations should benefit from natural resources in and around Cyprus and urged cooperation between both communities on energy projects in a report obtained Tuesday by Anadolu Agency.

These resources should "constitute a strong incentive for the parties to urgently seek mutually acceptable and durable solutions to disagreements," Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in the report which covers developments on Cyprus from Dec. 16, 2021, to June 14, 2022.

It said public confidence in the possibility of securing a settlement on the island has remained low.

Guterres voiced concern about tensions in and around the island and urged relevant parties to refrain from unilateral actions which he said could heighten tensions.

The report revealed that internal political developments and socio-economic issues dominated public debate and media attention in both communities.

"The Turkish Cypriot political landscape has been characterized by uncertainty and increasing polarization. In the Republic of Cyprus, unofficial campaigning for the presidential elections scheduled for February 2023 has started," it said.

The report also noted that prospects for reaching common ground on the Cyprus peace process remain uncertain for the time being, citing the continued absence of "substantive dialogue" on the issue between the two sides and given the prevailing socio-economic and political climate.

"It should be recalled that the future of the process remains in the hands of the parties. As we continue to support them in seeking common ground, the parties’ display of political will and flexibility remain of paramount importance," the UN chief said in the report.

Türkiye-Greece relations

The report also touched on relations between Ankara and Athens, saying the reporting period saw fluctuations in the regional situation.

"Relations between the guarantor powers, Greece and Türkiye, seemed to be improving, particularly in March, but tensions gradually increased again towards the end of the reporting period," it said.

Guterres urged guarantor powers to support dialogue and cooperation between the two communities and encouraged those on the islands to "engage actively in shaping the future of the island and to look forward with pragmatism."

"Continued efforts are needed to find a mutually acceptable way forward to ultimately bring the Cyprus issue to a settlement and bring peace and prosperity to all," he added.

The report said discussions have continued with the leaders of the two communities and their representatives, as well as representatives of Greece, Türkiye and the UK and Northern Ireland.

"As part of these discussions, Assistant-Secretary-General Miroslav Jenca visited Cyprus (10-13 April), Greece (3-4 May) and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (5-6 May)," said the report. "A visit to Türkiye and further discussions with the Cypriot leaders are also planned."

Decades-long dispute

Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.

Ethnic attacks starting in the early 1960s forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety.

In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece's annexation led to Türkiye's military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence. As a result, the TRNC was founded in 1983.

It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Türkiye, Greece and the UK.

The Greek Cypriot administration entered the EU in 2004, the same year Greek Cypriots thwarted the UN's Annan plan to end the longstanding dispute.

*Servet Gunerigok in Washington contributed to the story

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