SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF UNFICYP UNTIL 31 DECEMBER

28 June 1996
SC/6236

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF UNFICYP UNTIL 31 DECEMBER

28 June 1996

Press ReleaseSC/6236

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF UNFICYP UNTIL 31 DECEMBER

19960628

The Security Council this afternoon extended the mandate of the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) until 31 December and urged the leaders of the two communities to work with the Secretary-General and the countries which support his good offices mission to establish common ground for the resumption of direct negotiations.

Through its unanimous adoption of resolution 1062 (1996), the Council deplored the tragic incident of 3 June in which a Greek Cypriot National Guardsman was fatally shot within the United Nations buffer zone. It called on the military authorities of both sides to respect the integrity of the zone, ensure that no further incidents occur along it, prevent hostile actions, including live fire against UNFICYP, grant the Force complete freedom of movement, and cooperate fully with it.

The Council called on them to clear all minefields and booby-trapped areas inside the buffer zone and to cease military construction in its immediate vicinity. It called on them to enter into immediate discussions aimed at prohibiting along the cease-fire lines live ammunition or weapons other than hand-held ones, and at prohibiting weapons fire within sight or hearing of the zone. It also called on them to enter immediately into intensive discussions with UNFICYP on extension of a 1989 unmanning agreement to cover all areas of the zone where the two sides are in close proximity.

Expressing concern at the continuing modernization and upgrading of military forces and related developments, the Council again urged all concerned to commit themselves to a significant reduction in the number of foreign troops on the island and to a reduction in defence spending to help restore confidence between the parties and as a first step towards the withdrawal of non-Cypriot forces. It stressed the importance of the eventual demilitarization of Cyprus in the context of an overall settlement and expressed serious concern about recent military exercises in the region, which had increased tension.

The Council strongly urged all concerned, and especially the Turkish Cypriot leadership, to lift all obstacles to bicommunal events of the United Nations and diplomatic missions. It called upon the Turkish-Cypriot side to

respect fully the basic freedoms of the Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the northern part of the island and to intensify its efforts to improve their daily lives. It called on the Government of Cyprus to continue its efforts to eliminate discrimination against Turkish Cypriots living in the southern part of the island.

The meeting, which was called to order at 12:56 p.m., was adjourned at 12:59 p.m.

Resolution Adopted

The text of the resolution adopted by the Council reads as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations operation in Cyprus of 7 June 1996 (S/1996/411 and Corr.1 and Add.1),

"Welcoming also the report of the Secretary-General on his Mission of Good Offices in Cyprus of 25 June 1996 (S/1996/467),

"Taking note of the recommendation in his report of 7 June 1996 that the Security Council extend the mandate of the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP),

"Noting that the Government of Cyprus has agreed that in view of the prevailing conditions in the island that it is necessary to keep the force in Cyprus beyond 30 June 1996,

"Reaffirming its earlier relevant resolutions on Cyprus, and in particular resolutions 186 (1964) of 4 March 1964, 939 (1994) of 29 July 1994 and 1032 (1995) of 19 December 1995,

"Reiterating its concern that there has been no progress towards a final political solution, and agreeing with the assessment of the Secretary-General that the negotiations have been at an impasse for too long,

"Regretting that no progress has been made in introducing measures to prohibit along the cease-fire lines live ammunition or weapons other than those which are hand-held and to prohibit the firing of weapons within sight or hearing of the buffer zone, or in extending the 1989 unmanning agreement,

"Expressing concern about the restrictions placed upon the freedom of movement of UNFICYP in the northern part of the island, as described in paragraph 27 of the report of the Secretary-General of 7 June 1996,

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"1. Decides to extend the mandate of UNFICYP for a further period ending on 31 December 1996;

"2. Welcomes the appointment of Mr. Han Sung-Joo as the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Cyprus and calls upon both parties to cooperate fully with him in his efforts to facilitate a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem;

"3. Deplores the tragic incident involving the fatal shooting of a Greek Cypriot National Guardsman inside the United Nations buffer zone on 3 June 1996, as well as the hindering by Turkish Cypriot soldiers of UNFICYP personnel attempting to assist the National Guardsman and investigate the incident, as documented in the report of the Secretary-General of 7 June 1996;

"4. Expresses serious concern about the continuing modernization and upgrading of military forces in the Republic of Cyprus, the excessive levels of military forces and armaments and the lack of progress towards a significant reduction in the number of foreign troops in the Republic of Cyprus, urges once again all concerned to commit themselves to such a reduction and to a reduction in defence spending in the Republic of Cyprus to help restore confidence between the parties and as a first step towards the withdrawal of non-Cypriot forces as described in the set of ideas (S/24472, annex), stresses the importance of eventual demilitarization of the Republic of Cyprus as an objective in the context of an overall comprehensive settlement, and calls upon the Secretary-General to continue to promote efforts in this direction;

"5. Expresses serious concern also about recent military exercises in the region, including overflights in the airspace of Cyprus by military fixed- wing aircraft, which have increased tension;

"6. Calls upon the military authorities on both sides:

"(a) To respect the integrity of the United Nations buffer zone, ensure that no further incidents occur along the buffer zone, prevent hostile actions, including live fire against UNFICYP, grant UNFICYP complete freedom of movement and extend their full cooperation to UNFICYP;

"(b) To enter immediately into discussions with UNFICYP, in line with paragraph 3 of resolution 839 (1993) of 11 June 1993, with a view to adopting reciprocal measures to prohibit along the cease-fire lines live ammunition or weapons other than those which are hand-held and to prohibit also the firing of weapons within sight or hearing of the buffer zone;

"(c) To clear all minefields and booby-trapped areas inside the buffer zone without further delay, as requested by UNFICYP;

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"(d) To cease military construction in the immediate vicinity of the buffer zone;

"(e) To enter immediately into intensive discussions with UNFICYP with a view to extending the 1989 unmanning agreement to cover all areas of the buffer zone where the two sides are in close proximity to each other, on the basis of the updated proposals submitted by the UNFICYP Force Commander in June 1996;

"7. Welcomes the measures that have been taken by the two parties in response to the humanitarian review conducted by UNFICYP, regrets that the Turkish Cypriot side has not responded more fully to the recommendations made by UNFICYP, calls upon the Turkish Cypriot side to respect fully the basic freedoms of the Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the northern part of the island and to intensify its efforts to improve their daily lives, and calls upon the Government of Cyprus to continue its efforts to eliminate any discrimination against Turkish Cypriots living in the southern part of the island;

"8. Welcomes the continuing efforts of the United Nations and diplomatic missions to promote bicommunal events, regrets the obstacles which have been placed in the way of such contacts, and strongly urges all concerned, and specially the Turkish Cypriot leadership, to lift and prevent all obstacles to such contacts;

"9. Requests the Secretary-General to keep under review the structure and strength of UNFICYP with a view to its possible restructuring, and to present any new considerations he may have in this regard;

"10. Reiterates that the status quo is unacceptable and calls upon the parties to demonstrate concretely their commitment to an overall political settlement;

"11. Stresses its support for the Secretary-General's mission of good offices and the importance of the concerted efforts to work with the Secretary-General towards an overall comprehensive settlement;

"12. Urges the leaders of the two communities to respond positively and urgently to the Secretary-General's call upon them to work with him and with the many countries who support his mission of good offices to break the present impasse and establish common ground on which direct negotiations can be resumed;

"13. Recognizes that the decision of the European Union concerning the opening of accession negotiations with Cyprus is an important new development that should facilitate an overall settlement;

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"14. Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report by 10 December 1996 on the implementation of the present resolution;

"15. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."

Secretary-General's Reports

The Security Council had before it a report by the Secretary-General on the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), in which he recommends that the Council extend its mandate for a further six months, until 31 December. It also had before it a report of the Secretary-General on his good offices mission there.

The Force's presence on the island remains indispensable to achieving the objectives set out by the Council, the Secretary-General states in his report on UNFICYP (document S/1996/411 and Corr.1 and Add.1). Of the estimated $22.5 million required for the mandate extension, some $12.1 million will be assessed on Member States. He also notes that the Government of Cyprus contributes one third of cost of the Force, while Greece contributes $6.5 million annually.

The UNFICYP has continued to carry out its functions effectively during the past six months and the overall situation has remained calm, the Secretary-General states. However, he expresses concern at the excessive levels of military forces and armaments in Cyprus and at the rate at which they are being expanded, upgraded and modernized. The opposing forces have not heeded the Council's repeated calls to implement measures aimed at reducing the risk of confrontation along the cease-fire lines, and incidents of shooting near those lines have increased.

He cites, in particular, an incident in which an unarmed National Guard soldier was shot and killed inside the United Nations buffer zone in central Nicosia. The lethal round was fired by a Turkish Cypriot soldier whom UNFICYP observed entering the buffer zone with his rifle strung across his back. Shortly thereafter, a single shot was heard and the Turkish Cypriot soldier was seen running back to the Turkish cease-fire line. UNFICYP soldiers were prevented for some 25 minutes from reaching the National Guard soldier by Turkish Cypriot soldiers, who fired shots in their direction each time they tried to move forward.

The area where the National Guard soldier was fatally shot is among those identified in UNFICYP's 1994 proposal on the unmanning of a number of locations along the cease-fire lines and on prohibiting the use of loaded weapons there, the report continues. However, no progress has, as yet, been made with respect to those proposals.

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The Secretary-General stresses the role bicommunal contacts can play in facilitating an overall settlement. The UNFICYP continued its efforts to improve communication and cooperation between the two communities through such events. However, the Turkish Cypriot authorities continued to exercise tight control, often denying permission for Turkish Cypriots to participate in them. The Secretary-General urges both communities, and especially the Turkish Cypriot authorities, to lift the obstacles to such contacts.

The report states that the situation of Greek Cypriots and Maronites in the northern part of the island continues to fall short of the normal life they were promised under a 1975 agreement. The measures taken to improve their daily lives are limited and insufficient. It also notes that Turkish Cypriots in the southern part of the island were often the victims of capricious discrimination or police harassment. However, UNFICYP made four recommendations to rectify the situation, which the Government has implemented to a significant extent.

The UNFICYP has complete freedom of movement in the southern part of the island, except for restricted military areas, the Secretary-General adds. However, its movements in the northern part are subject to restrictions, even though no such restrictions apply to diplomats and tourists. He expresses the hope that that situation will be rectified without further delay.

In the report on his good offices mission (document S/1996/467), the Secretary General calls on the leaders of the two communities to work with him and with the countries supporting his mission in order to break the present impasse and establish common ground for the resumption of direct negotiations. He says a lasting settlement of the situation in Cyprus will not be achieved unless the two leaders persuade their communities that their interests will be better served by flexibility and compromise than by confrontation.

"The negotiations on Cyprus have been at an impasse for too long", he states. "Thirty-two years after the first involvement of the United Nations in the Cyprus conflict and 22 years after the events of 1974, the international community can reasonably demand evidence that both parties, and others concerned, are serious in their pursuit of an overall settlement on the basis the two parties agreed almost 20 years ago."

No one can objectively believe that the existing status quo provides a viable basis for preserving the character and security of the two communities, he adds. The absence of progress is especially disappointing when the elements required to construct an overall settlement have been identified. These include various ideas elaborated over the years, as well as the concept of mutual concessions that emerged during the direct talks between the leaders of the two communities in October 1994.

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Many attempts have been made to find a basis for the resumption of direct talks between the leaders, the Secretary-General states. Most recently, he met with the Turkish Cypriot leader at Istanbul on 6 June, and with the Greek Cypriot leader at Geneva on 11 June. Although both leaders expressed support for the idea of direct talks, each set conditions for their resumption.

The leader of the Greek Cypriot community said there must be proximity talks to ensure that sufficient common ground existed before direct talks could begin. Key issues included security, membership in the European Union, territory, sovereignty and political equality. He said an arrangement must be devised to address the security concerns of both sides. The 1960 Treaty of Guarantee did not meet that objective; his community could not accept that Turkey had the right of unilateral intervention.

The leader of the Turkish Cypriot community said direct talks must take place within the framework of an equal partnership. Such a partnership would treat the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities as equal in all aspects, including decision-making in the federal Government. Stressing the centrality of the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee, he opposed any change in that Treaty, including Turkey's right to unilateral intervention. He also opposed Cyprus joining the European Union before Turkey.

The Secretary-General cites the decision of the European Union to begin accession negotiations with Cyprus in 1997 or 1998 as an important development. The imminence of accession negotiations should instil a new sense of urgency to the search for an overall agreement. "What is now required is a concerted effort by the international community to build on these developments and to give a new impetus to the negotiating process."

Stressing the special responsibility of Greece and Turkey, he says they must ensure that their own relations do not develop in a way that endangers the search for a settlement. A number of States, including the five permanent members of the Security Council, have provided gratifying evidence of their readiness to add their weight to a coordinated effort in support of his good offices mission. Nevertheless, the main responsibility for progress will continue to rest with the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities themselves.

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For information media. Not an official record.