14 June 2000


Press Release
SC/6875



SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS UNFICYP MANDATE UNTIL 15 DECEMBER

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Resolution 1303 (2000) Adopted Unanimously

Unanimously adopting resolution 1303 (2000), the Security Council this afternoon extended the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) until 15 December.

Noting that the Cyprus Government agreed that the prevailing conditions on the island meant UNFICYP's presence was still necessary, the Council extended the mission’s mandate for six months and asked the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of the current resolution by 1 December.

It also welcomed, in particular, the Secretary-General's call to assess and address the humanitarian issue of missing persons with due urgency and seriousness. It also reaffirmed its previous resolutions on Cyprus and decided to remain seized of the matter.

Following the adoption of the resolution, Council President Jean-David Levitte (France) stated that Council Members wished every success for the proximity talks between the two parties to be held in Geneva in July.

The meeting began at 4:20 p.m. and ended at 4:24 p.m.

Text of Resolution

The full text of resolution 1303 (2000) reads as follows:

“The Security Council,

“Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General of 26 May 2000 (S/2000/496 and Corr.1) on the United Nations operation in Cyprus, and in particular the call to the parties to assess and address the humanitarian issue of missing persons with due urgency and seriousness,

“Noting that the Government of Cyprus has agreed that in view of the prevailing conditions in the island it is necessary to keep the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) beyond 15 June 2000,

“Welcoming and encouraging efforts by the United Nations to sensitize peacekeeping personnel in the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases in all its peacekeeping operations,

“1. Reaffirms all its relevant resolutions on Cyprus, and in particular resolutions 1251 (1999) of 29 June 1999 and 1283 (1999) of 15 December 1999;

Security Council - 2 - Press Release SC/6875 4155th Meeting (PM) 14 June 2000

“2. Decides to extend the mandate of UNFICYP for a further period ending 15 December 2000;

“3. Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report by 1 December 2000 on the implementation of this resolution;

“4. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”

Secretary-General’s Report

When the Council met this afternoon, it had before it a report from the Secretary-General on the United Nations operation in Cyprus, and notably the UNFICYP, from 30 November 1999 to 31 May 2000 (document S/2000/496 and Corr.1).

The Secretary-General advises the presence of UNFICYP on the island remains indispensable for the maintenance of the ceasefire between the two sides, the report notes. He therefore recommends its mandate be extended for six months, until 15 December.

Two positive developments during the period covered by the report, the Secretary-General notes, are the increase in contact between Greek and Turkish Cypriots -- an important factor in improving the political climate -- and the decision by the Turkish Cypriots to lift limitations on visits to the Greek Cypriots and Maronites in the north.

The report states that the situation along the ceasefire lines has remained stable, with a significant reduction in the overall number of incidents compared with the previous reporting period; however occasional threats against United Nations soldiers remain a concern. Restrictions by the National Guard on United Nations freedom of movement in the area of Kokkina and Kato Pyrgos have impeded access to a number of observation posts, and efforts continue to have the restrictions removed.

Air violations of the buffer zone increased, it notes. In addition, on 4 April, National Guard personnel were observed in the buffer zone at Athienou. UNFICYP protested those violations.

Contacts between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, mostly arranged with the help of UNFICYP in the United Nations buffer zone, increased. Those included professional conferences, trade union meetings, a media forum, women's gatherings, youth events and televised discussions among Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot journalists. For the first time in several years, two meetings took place between political party representatives from both sides.

After more than three years, the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus met from November 1999 to January 2000, and discussed resuming its investigative work. Following the death of Jean-Pierre Ritter on 17 January, the United Nations has been in touch with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) regarding the selection of a new third member of that Committee, but any appointment awaits assurance that obstacles impeding investigations had been removed and that both sides are genuinely committed to the process.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) continued its programme of encouraging Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to work together on

projects of mutual concern, notably public health, environment, sanitation, water, urban renovation, preservation of cultural heritage, natural resources and education, the report notes.

The Secretary-General reports that a third round of the proximity talks, started in December 1999 to prepare for negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement, are expected to start on 5 July in Geneva. His Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, met separately with Glafcos Clerides and Rauf Denktash in March, and also visited Ankara and Athens.

As of May, UNFICYP comprised 1,208 troops and 33 civilian police, the report notes, along with 224 civilian staff (43 internationals and 181 locals). On 1 June, the Acting Special Representative and Chief of Mission, James Holger, will be replaced by Zbigniew Wlosowicz. Major General Victory Rana was appointed Force Commander on 16 December 1999.

The proposed budget for UNFICYP's maintenance for 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001 -- currently under General Assembly consideration -- is $41 million gross, inclusive of the one third of costs pledged by the Cyprus Government and $6.5 million contributed annually by Greece. As of 30 April, unpaid assessments for UNFICYP from 16 June 1993 to 15 June 2000 amounted to some $17.6 million.

[UNFICYP was established through Security Council resolution 186 (1964) of 4 March 1964 to prevent a recurrence of fighting between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities and to help maintain and restore law and order and normal conditions. It became operational on 27 March 1964.

Following hostilities in 1974, the Security Council adopted a number of resolutions expanding the mandate of UNFICYP to include supervising a de facto ceasefire, which came into effect on 16 August 1974, and maintaining a buffer zone between the lines of the Cyprus National Guard and of the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot forces. In the absence of a political settlement to the Cyprus problem, UNFICYP continues its presence on the island. The Security Council most recently extended the mandate of the Force until 15 June by resolution 1283 (1999), adopted on 15 December 1999.]

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