Wednesday, February 22, 2017

On Cyprus Talks, ICP Asks of Status & Cyprus Making UNFICYP CFO A Citizen, Silence

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 21 -- On the Cyprus talks, Inner City Press on February 21 asked for the status, and about Cyprus reportedly giving citizenship to UNFIPYC's chief financial officer, on which 19 hours later the UN had not answered, even as new UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres prepared to accept the credentials on February 22 at noon of new Cypriot Ambassador Kornelios Korneliou. From the UN Transcript: 

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you on Cyprus a general question and then something very specific.  One is, where does it stand on the talks?  As of at least the last reporting, it may not restart because of the request by the Turkish Cypriots that the Cyprus President denounce this new law or get it repealed.  So, want just an update on that.  And the other one has to do with it's a very specific story in the press there that the Chief Financial Officer of UNFICYP [United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus] has been recently granted citizenship of Cyprus.  And so the Turkish Cypriot side finds that strange and says, I guess he's an international civil servant but what explains, is there any policy on… on host countries of peacekeeping missions giving citizenship to internationals that are based there?  Thanks.

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, I'd have to check about that.  I'm not aware of someone taking… from UNFICYP taking Cypriot nationality, but I'll check on that.  Regarding your initial question, our envoy, Espen Barth Eide, did meet with the parties late last week to continue discussions in terms of finding a way to bring them back together for talks.  We don't have any new date for talks between the leaders to announce at this point. 
  Back on February 16 asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: The Cyprus talks, it's reported that the Turkish Cypriot leader walked out.  It's also reported that he's asked António Guterres personally to get involved on this historical issue about commemorating this 1950 vote for union with Greece.  And so I wanted to know, is António Guterres going to get involved in that?  And, two, and what is the UN's understanding of the status of the talks?  And what's being done to bring them back together?

Deputy Spokesman:  Yeah, we're aware that the meeting today between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders ended abruptly.  The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, Espen Barth Eide, is meeting with both leaders today to discuss the situation and the way forward.
  We'll see. Back on January 16 amid reports on Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias at the Cyprus talks in Geneva with Antonio Guterres, Inner City Press asked the UN's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about it. Video here,UN transcript here and below.
 On January 23, Inner City Press asked Espen Barth Eide about the reported "spicy moments" with Guterres at the talks. Tweeted video here. Eide said that the only issue was whether the talks would continue on January 13 or Jan 18. It was the latter, and successful, Eide said.
  Eide did not then answer Inner City Press' question about Turkish soldiers remaining in Northern Cyprus, but he went on to say that is an attempt to find new solutions. He also said while there is no fixed deadline for the talks, they will not go on and on. And what about Norway? We'll have more on that.
 For now, here are the UN Security Council's January 23 "Elements to the Press" on Cyprus:
"The members of the Security Council welcomed the progress made in the negotiations on a Cyprus settlement in recent months, as well as the convening of a Conference for Cyprus in Geneva this month, which addressed Security and Guarantees for the first time.
The members commended the steadfast and courageous leadership shown by both Cypriot leaders, the UN for the crucial support it continues to provide, and reiterated their strong support for Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide and Special Representative Elizabeth Spehar in their active role in facilitating discussions.
The members reiterated their commitment to supporting the two sides in reaching a settlement deal - including through the rollover of the UNFICYP mandate - and urged all parties to maintain momentum and seize the opportunity they now have to secure an historic agreement for a united Cyprus."
Here's what Inner City Press earlier asked the UN:
Inner City Press:  I'm sure you've seen the coverage of the… the Cyprus talks.  A number of the stories said that the… the Greek Foreign Minister and the Secretary-General didn't get along and that, here's a quote from one of the stories.  "Guterres was so irritated that he… he has refused to sit in the same room as the Greek Foreign Minister in the foreseeable future."

There are at least three different articles in three separate media saying this.  So I'm just wondering, how would you characterise the… the… the participation of the Greek Foreign Minister and the Secretary-General's view going forward on his participation?

Deputy Spokesman:  No, I mean, that, that's not, that's not accurate.  What, what I would say is the Secretary-General has been dealing and will continue to deal with all the various sides regarding this.

You will have seen what the Secretary-General said last week, and I would just refer you back to the text of what he said.  We continue to hope that there will be an agreement.  Obviously, we want to make sure that this is a lasting and sustainable agreement, and we will work in good faith with all the various sides.
   After Haq said that reports of Guterres being irritated were inaccurate, the Head of Press and Communication Office of Greece's Mission to the UN Athanasia Papatriantafyllou told Inner City Press that the reports were unfounded and relations with Guterres excellent.
  The Greek version is that while Kotzias wanted a political meeting about Cyprus on Friday  in Geneva, the Turkish side said they had other engagements, presumably the Astana talks on Syria. Perhaps Turkey is feeling ascendant. We'll have more on this.
It's still worth revisiting the more staged meeting of the two back on January 6 (Inner City Press photos herePeriscope here.)
  Guterres joked that Kotzias' gifts, a book, music CDs and a box, were too heavy.
   (Earlier in the day Guterres has been led around to take selfies with the correspondents the UN has not, like Inner City Press, evicted from their offices for covering UN corruption, like the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe bribery case. Video here, story here.)
   The Greek meeting followed one on January 5 with Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu. Photo herevideo here
  Present at both meetings was UN's Cyprus envoy Espen Barth Eide, and Ban's Under Secretaries General Feltman, Ladsous and O'Brien. The "P3 men," some call them. Will they be switched not only for gender, but nation?
Guterres' new chief of staff Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti was there; his Deputy SG Amina J. Mohammed won't formally begin until next month. Will that trigger the end of Ban Ki-moon's era of censoring and restricting the Press?
Has Guterres been informed and digested that one of the most active media at the UN, Inner City Press which at the January 5 noon briefing asked about Myanmar, the Central African Republic and Gambia, was thrown out of its office in 2016 and is still being restricted and confined to minders in 2017 for merely trying to cover a meeting, relevant to the Ng Lap Seng UN bribery case, in the UN Press Briefing Room?
 On January 3 when Guterres formally took the reigns at the United Nations on Tuesday, he said of the UN, “We have to earn the right to do the right thing.” Vine here.
He might have added, “re-earn” the right, because in recent years the UN has been bleeding credibility, from shirking for six years its responsibility for bringing cholera to Haiti to letting peacekeepers who have raped in the Central African Republic and elsewhere enjoy immunity, and even as in the base of the Burundian contingent in CAR, to rotated 800 more troops in to get paid.
   And so any implementation of Guterres' message of hope would have to include replacing the Ban Ki-moon era officials who brought the UN into disrepute. 45-second tweeted video here.
  UN Peacekeeping's Herve Ladsous, who said that his troops would rape less frequently if they had been R&R or “rest and recreation,” is slated to leave in March. Longer YouTube here.
   But a real litmus test will be replacing the head of Ban's Department of Public Information Cristina Gallach, who bought the UN down first by neglecting to do any due diligence as now-indicted Macau businessman Ng Lap Seng bought events in the UN including its slavery memorial (audit here, Paragraphs 37-40 and 20b) then by ousting, evicting and still restricting the investigative Press which asked her about it. 
 There's also the Wonder Woman as UN ambassador fiasco, and spending taxpayers' funds on a DPI trainer who, among other things, called Detroit, Michigan a “third rate city” in “flyover country.” Four strikes and you're out. Busca una otra.