UN urges sides to continue efforts to revitalize Technical Committees, encourages leaders for CBMs, Siddique tells CNA

The two sides in Cyprus should continue their ongoing efforts to revitalize all of the bicommunal Technical Committees and to provide them with the necessary resources and political backing in order to empower them and streamline their work, says Aleem Siddique, the UN Spokesperson in Cyprus.

Speaking to CNA, he also notes that the UN continues to encourage the leaders to consider further confidence building measures (CBMs) and stands ready to assist and support them in these efforts.

In his latest report on his goof offices, the UN Secretary-General refers to a stocktaking exercise conducted by the UN, to assess the strengths and challenges the Technical Committees are facing. The stocktaking exercise is expected to be concluded by the end of this year.

In particular, Guterres notes that the exercise is being conducted through a participatory approach to seek the views of the sides, including the members or the Technical Committees themselves. The UN will use the findings to propose recommendations to the sides to assist them in their efforts to strengthen and streamline the work of the committees.

In reply to CNA questions, Siddique says that Technical Committees certainly have a role to play in the current climate, when the prospects for resumed negotiations remain uncertain.

They can be an important vehicle for bringing the two communities closer together, implementing practical and impactful bi-communal initiatives and mobilizing support for increased dialogue, he added.

In this regard, the signs of revitalization of the Technical Committees, as demonstrated by increased activities and initiatives, are important, the UN Spokesperson notes and says they expect to see more progress in the period ahead.

According to Siddique, the information gathered through the stocktaking exercise has indicated that, in general, the committees are responding to their overall mandates and that successful projects and initiatives have been undertaken which have brought the two sides closer together.

The information has also shown some challenges, including the continuing lack of sufficient resources, secretariat support or cooperation from the relevant authorities as well as delays in decision making, he adds.

As noted by the Secretary-General in his report, in order to fully exploit the potential of the technical committees, the sides should further strengthen the ongoing efforts to revitalize them and to intensify their work through providing them with sustained resources and strong political backing from the leaders, the UN Spokesperson notes.

Siddique also tells CNA that several Technical Committees have already received support from the European Commission-funded facility, to implement projects and initiatives in a variety of fields. More projects and initiatives are being formulated, as the interest from the Technical Committees continues to grow, indicating that there is an increased awareness of the facility’s potential, he notes. He also says that the facility will continue to consider the proposals of the Technical Committees to provide support to their work and enhance their impact and visibility.

The UN Spokesperson was also asked about the exchange of art works and audiovisual recordings announced by the Technical Committee on Culture last September, following an agreement by the Cyprus leaders. He says that after initial restoration is completed, an exhibition of these art works and recordings will be organized. This event is planned for the beginning of next year and it will be open to the public, he concludes.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

Source: Cyprus News Agency