This afternoon (21 November) the Security Council will hold consultations on Cyprus. Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo is scheduled to brief on the latest developments and the Secretary-General’s most recent report on his good offices, published on 14 November.
In her briefing, DiCarlo is likely to draw heavily on the main findings of the report. The report does not contain any substantial information on the political process beyond what has been reported in the media. Jane Holl Lute, a senior UN official appointed by the Secretary-General, has continued consultations with the Cypriot parties on finalising the terms of reference expected to serve as a basis for future negotiations. While the report cites the dates when Lute held meetings with the Cypriot leaders, it does not provide any details on the substance of these discussions. Council members are likely to be interested in receiving more information on this process.
In October, the Secretary-General invited the Cypriot leaders to an informal meeting in Berlin to discuss the next steps on the Cyprus issue. This meeting is scheduled to take place next Monday (25 November), just days after the Council’s consultations on Cyprus. While Council members are united in their support for a negotiated solution, the prevailing view appears to be that there is a narrowing window of opportunity to reach a political compromise. The negotiations remain at an impasse since the latest round collapsed in Crans Montana, Switzerland, in July 2017. Council members are likely to use today’s consultations to encourage Cypriot leaders to approach the meeting with the Secretary-General as an opportunity for constructive engagement and renewing the political process. There is a possibility that Council members could agree on elements to the press or a press statement to communicate this message.
Some members might address the rising tensions over hydrocarbon exploration and drilling activities off the coast of Cyprus. Over the past few months, Turkey has deployed several vessels in the area and has started hydrocarbon exploration and drilling activities. The Republic of Cyprus claims that Turkey’s activities are within Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone and constitute a breach of international law. Turkey says its exploration activities are conducted in the area of its continental shelf and are therefore legitimate. Turkey has further maintained that it is protecting the rights of Turkish Cypriots and that they are also entitled to receive benefits from the hydrocarbon resources. The EU has condemned Turkey’s actions and has agreed on a framework for sanctions against entities and individuals involved in what the EU regards as illegal drilling activities.