UNFICYP’s presence on the island and resumption of Cyprus talks ‘two different things’, says Defence Minister

Cyprus message to all contacts held at the UN Headquarters in New York is that UNFICYPs presence on the island and the resumption of the UN-backed talks are two separate things and must not be confused, Defence Minister Savvas Angelides has told the Cyprus News Agency.

Angelides is in NYC where he addressed on Friday the UN Peacekeeping Ministerial Conference on Uniformed Capabilities, Performance and Protection. On the sidelines of the Conference he met with officials from countries with contributing forces to UNFICYP. Namely he met with Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan and the permanent representatives of China, Russia, Argentina, Peru and Serbia.

On Monday he is set to meet with Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary General for the United Nations Department of Field Support, Atul Khare and Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Miroslav Jenka. He will also be received by Archbishop Demetrios, the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

Speaking to CNA, the Minister pointed out that in all his meetings so far, he has made clear that we do not want the continuation of the current status quo on the island. But he clarified that until the resumption of the talks, the mandate of the peacekeeping mission cannot be changed.

Angelides said that this message was understood by is interlocutors, adding that the same message will be conveyed to the contacts he will have on Monday with the UN top officials.

The Minister also expressed his gratitude to his Greek counterpart Evangelos Apostolakis for his strong support on UNFICYP issue and its mandate during his speech to the UN and during his meetings with high ranking officials.

Angelides had also a tete-a-tete meeting with Apostolakis and attended a tripartite meeting with the presence of Armenian Defence Minister. He said that Cyprus, Greece and Armenia have close ties and share the same values as regards issues of security and defense.

Asked about the developments regarding the US lifting of Cyprus arms embargo, Angelides said that all steps are being taken towards this end and also on strengthening the US-Cyprus ties on security matters. He recalled that next week a Cyprus military attache will be stationed in the Cyprus Embassy in Washington.

Tomorrow the Minister will address an event to commemorate the start of the National Liberation Struggle of 1955-59 against the British Colonial administration.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. The latest round of UN-peace talks at the Swiss resort of Crans – Montana ended without an agreement. Talks held under the auspices of the UN aim at reunifying Cyprus under a federal roof.

Source: Cyprus News Agency