SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS UNFICYP MANDATE FOR FURTHER SIX MONTHS UNTIL 30 JUNE 1999 BY RESOLUTION 1217 (1998)

22 December 1998
SC/6615

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS UNFICYP MANDATE FOR FURTHER SIX MONTHS UNTIL 30 JUNE 1999 BY RESOLUTION 1217 (1998)

22 December 1998

Press ReleaseSC/6615

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS UNFICYP MANDATE FOR FURTHER SIX MONTHS UNTIL 30 JUNE 1999 BY RESOLUTION 1217 (1998)

19981222 Also Adopts Resolution 1218 (1998) Requesting Compliance With Objectives of Secretary-General's Good Offices Mission in Cyprus

The Security Council this afternoon unanimously adopted two resolutions on Cyprus, one extending the mandate of United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for a further six months until 30 June 1999, and the other calling upon the two sides on the island to comply with the objectives of the Secretary-General's Mission of Good Offices.

By the first -- resolution 1217 (1998) -- the Council called upon the military authorities on both sides to refrain from any action, particularly in the vicinity of the buffer zone, which would exacerbate tensions.

The Council called for a commitment, by all concerned, to a reduction in defence spending and in the number of foreign troops on the island to help restore confidence between the parties. It stressed the importance of eventual demilitarization of Cyprus as an objective in the context of an overall comprehensive settlement, and encouraged the Secretary-General to continue to promote efforts in that direction.

The Council reaffirmed its position that a Cyprus settlement must be based on a State of Cyprus with a single sovereignty and international personality and a single citizenship, with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded. The State must also comprise two politically equal communities as described in the relevant Security Council resolutions, in a bi-communal and bi-zonal federation, and such a settlement must exclude union in whole or in part with any other country or any form of partition or secession.

By the terms of the second resolution -- 1218 (1998) -- the Council endorsed the Secretary-General's initiative announced on 30 September 1998 within the framework of his Mission of Good Offices, with the goal of reducing tensions and promoting progress towards a just and lasting settlement in Cyprus. It requested the Secretary-General, building on the serious engagement already demonstrated by the two sides, to continue to make progress towards those two objectives, on the basis of relevant Council resolutions.

Also by the text, the Council requested the Secretary-General to work intensively with the two sides on the following: an undertaking to refrain from the threat or use of force or violence as a means to solve the Cyprus problem; a staged process to limit and then reduce substantially the level of troops and armament on Cyprus; implementation of the UNFICYP package of measures to reduce tensions along the ceasefire lines and a commitment to enter into discussion with UNFICYP with a view to early agreement on further specific and related tension-reducing steps, including demining along the buffer zone; further progress in the area of tension-reduction; efforts to achieve substantive progress on the core aspects of a comprehensive Cyprus settlement; and other measures that would build trust and cooperation between the two sides.

The meeting, which began at 6:34 p.m., was adjourned at 6:38 p.m.

Resolutions Adopted

The full text of resolution 1217 (1998) reads as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations operation in Cyprus of 10 December 1998 (S/1998/1149 and Add.1),

"Welcoming also the letter to the President of the Security Council from the Secretary-General on his Mission of Good Offices in Cyprus of 14 December 1998 (S/1998/1166),

"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 31 December 1998,

"Reaffirming all its earlier resolutions on Cyprus,

"Calling once more upon all States to respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus and requesting them, along with the parties concerned, to refrain from any action which might prejudice that sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, as well as from any attempt of partition of the island or its unification with any other country,

"Noting with concern that restrictions to the freedom of movement of UNFICYP continue,

"Noting further with satisfaction that the situation along the ceasefire lines remained generally calm, notwithstanding numerous minor violations,

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"Reiterating the need to make progress on a comprehensive political solution,

"1. Decides to extend the mandate of UNFICYP for a further period ending on 30 June 1999;

"2. Reminds both sides of their obligations to prevent any violence directed against UNFICYP personnel, to cooperate fully with UNFICYP and to ensure its complete freedom of movement;

"3. Calls upon the military authorities on both sides to refrain from any action, particularly in the vicinity of the buffer zone, which would exacerbate tensions;

"4. Reiterates its grave concern at the continuing excessive levels of military forces and armaments in the Republic of Cyprus and the rate at which they are being expanded, upgraded and modernized, including by the introduction of sophisticated weaponry, and the lack of progress towards any significant reduction in the number of foreign troops in the Republic of Cyprus, which threaten to raise tensions both on the island and in the region and complicate efforts to negotiate an overall political settlement;

"5. Calls upon all concerned to commit themselves to a reduction in defence spending and a reduction in the number of foreign troops 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 encourages the Secretary-General to continue to promote efforts in this direction;

"6. Reaffirms that the status quo is unacceptable and that negotiations on a final political solution of the Cyprus problem have been at an impasse for too long;

"7. Reaffirms its position that a Cyprus settlement must be based on a State of Cyprus with a single sovereignty and international personality and a single citizenship, with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded, and comprising two politically equal communities as described in the relevant Security Council resolutions, in a bi-communal and bi-zonal federation, and that such a settlement must exclude union in whole or in part with any other country or any form of partition or secession;

"8. Stresses its full support for the Secretary-General's Mission of Good Offices and for the efforts of his Special Adviser and Deputy Special Representative for Cyprus to resume when appropriate a sustained process of direct negotiations aimed at achieving a comprehensive settlement on the basis

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of the relevant Security Council resolutions, and stresses also the importance of concerted efforts to work with the Secretary-General to that end;

"9. Calls once again upon the leaders of the two communities to commit themselves to this process of negotiations, and to cooperate actively and constructively with the Secretary-General, his Special Adviser and his Deputy Special Representative and to resume when appropriate the direct dialogue, and urges all States to lend their full support to these efforts;

"10. Welcomes the ongoing efforts by UNFICYP to implement its humanitarian mandate in respect of Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the northern part of the island and Turkish Cypriots living in the southern part, as mentioned in the report of the Secretary-General;

"11. Welcomes also the resumption of work of the Committee on Missing Persons, and calls for implementation without delay of the agreement on missing persons of 31 July 1997;

"12. Reiterates its support for the efforts of the United Nations and others concerned to promote the holding of bi-communal events so as to build cooperation, trust and mutual respect between the two communities;

"13. Welcomes the efforts made to improve the efficiency of UNFICYP, including by the establishment of a new Civil Affairs Branch;

"14. Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report by 10 June 1999 on the implementation of this resolution;

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

The full text of resolution 1218 (1998) reads as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Reaffirming all its earlier resolutions on Cyprus,

"Reiterating its grave concern at the lack of progress towards an overall political settlement on Cyprus,

"1. Expresses appreciation for the letter to the President of the Council from the Secretary-General on his Mission of Good Offices in Cyprus, in particular on the work of his Deputy Special Representative, of 14 December 1998 (S/1998/1166);

"2. Endorses the initiative of the Secretary-General announced on

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30 September 1998 within the framework of his Mission of Good Offices, with the goal of reducing tensions and promoting progress towards a just and lasting settlement in Cyprus;

"3. Expresses appreciation for the spirit of cooperation and constructive approach the two sides have demonstrated thus far in working with the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General;

"4. Requests the Secretary-General, in view of the objectives of promoting progress towards a just and lasting settlement and of reducing tension set out by the Secretary-General in his initiative of 30 September 1998, and building on the serious engagement already demonstrated by the two sides, to continue to make progress towards these two objectives, on the basis of relevant Security Council resolutions;

"5. Requests further the Secretary-General, in particular, to work intensively with the two sides on the following, taking into account resolution 1178 (1998) of 29 June 1998;

"(a) An undertaking to refrain from the threat or use of force or violence as a means to resolve the Cyprus problem;

"(b) A staged process aimed at limiting and then substantially reducing the level of all troops and armaments on Cyprus;

"(c) Implementation of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) package of measures aimed at reducing tensions along the ceasefire lines, and a commitment to enter into discussions with UNFICYP with a view to early agreement on further specific and related tension-reducing steps, including demining along the buffer zone;

"(d) Further progress in the area of tension-reduction;

"(e) Efforts to achieve substantive progress on the core aspects of a comprehensive Cyprus settlement;

"(f) Other measures that will build trust and cooperation between the two sides;

"6. Calls upon the two sides to show compliance with all the objectives in paragraphs 4 and 5 above in full cooperation with the Secretary- General;

"7. Also requests the Secretary-General to keep the Security Council informed of progress made on his initiative;

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

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Documents before Council

As the Council met this evening, it had before it a report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) (document S/1998/1149 and Add.1). Advising that UNFICYP's presence on the island is indispensable to the maintenance of the ceasefire between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, he recommends that the Council extend the Force's mandate for a further period of six months, until 30 June 1999.

Should the Council decide to extend UNFICYP's mandate, the cost of maintaining the Force would be approximately $22.6 million. Of that amount, approximately $12.1 million would be assessed on Member States. As at 30 November, unpaid assessments to the special account of UNFICYP from 16 June 1993 to 31 December 1998 amounted to $16.5 million. Total outstanding assessed contributions for all peacekeeping operations at the same date amounted to $1,642.2 million.

The Secretary-General says that although the situation along the ceasefire lines remained generally calm during the past six months, the situation in Cyprus is not static, and the continued upgrading of military equipment and infrastructure gives cause for concern. UNFICYP continued to use its best efforts to maintain the ceasefire by controlling the United Nations buffer zone between the forward lines of the opposing forces and responding quickly to any incidents. Since the concept of the buffer zone as originally outlined in 1976 was generally not understood, UNFICYP has resumed briefings to officers on its role and responsibilities in the buffer zone. It also provided necessary liaison and support on a range of practical matters. The changes to be made in its headquarters organization are designed to improve these services to the two sides. In this connection, it is to be hoped that the Turkish Cypriot authorities will reconsider their position concerning contacts between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots on the island.

Despite strong protests by UNFICYP, the National Guard continued its large military construction project which involves anti-tank ditches and other defensive fortifications on the ceasefire line east and south-east of Nicosia, as well as a network of bunkers with connecting trenches east of the Old City of Nicosia, and constitutes a significant change in the military status quo, the report states. There were also numerous incidents of National Guard personnel restricting UNFICYP movement at checkpoints on the edge of the buffer zone. While troop levels remained unchanged, both sides continued to upgrade their military capabilities.

Regarding the restoration of normal conditions, the Secretary-General says that as a result of the suspension of bi-communal contacts by the Turkish Cypriot authorities in December 1997, there has been no Turkish Cypriot participation in bi-communal meetings on the island. However, there have been some meetings off-island with Turkish Cypriots in attendance. The Turkish

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Cypriot policy has not only limited intercommunal contacts, but has also hindered routine UNFICYP liaison between health, water and electricity officials of both sides.

Demonstrations by Greek Cypriots at the crossing point in Nicosia continued, mainly on weekends, with the aim of dissuading tourists from visiting the north, according to the report. In many instances, organized groups of school children in uniform accompanied by teachers participated in demonstrations.

The UNFICYP continued to carry out humanitarian tasks in respect of Greek Cypriots and Maronites in the northern part of the island and Turkish Cypriots in the southern part. On 2 October, the Turkish Cypriot authorities said they were reviewing legislation that barred Greek Cypriots and Maronites residing in the northern part of the island from bequeathing their movable and immovable property to heirs who did not reside there. Pending the review, such estates would not be seized or made available for occupation by third persons, although they would continue to be placed in the custody of the authorities. Turkish Cypriot authorities also announced the lifting of controls on the movement of Greek Cypriots and Maronites in the north and of the limit on visits by first-degree relatives from the south to Greek Cypriots in the Karpas. UNFICYP is trying to establish how these measures are being applied in practice.

The report states that the United Nations Development Programme is implementing a bi-communal development programme aimed at promoting confidence-building. It encourages the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to work together in areas of mutual concern, notably public health, environment, sanitation, water, urban renovation, preservation of cultural heritage, natural resources and education. There are four ongoing projects: the rehabilitation of the neighbourhoods of Chrysaliniotissa and Arab Ahmet in Nicosia, the restoration of the Nicosia Venetian Walls, the Nicosia sanitation sewerage system and the development of the village of Pyla. Up to $30 million will be allocated over a period of three years.

As of November, UNFICYP, one of the oldest peacekeeping operations, comprised 1,230 troops and 33 civilian police, according to the text. The focus of some of its activities has shifted in response to changing operational requirements. During the past six months, a further review has focused on bringing UNFICYP in line with more recently established peacekeeping missions, while achieving additional efficiencies by integrating civilian and military personnel to share responsibilities and decision-making, and to initiate more transparency and better financial controls. This includes the consolidation of responsibility for intercommunal liaison, economic and humanitarian tasks in a new Civil Affairs Branch with both civilian and military personnel. The restructuring can be implemented without an increase in the authorized staffing of the mission.

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In the addendum to the report, the Secretary-General informs the Council that the Government of Cyprus as well as the Governments of Greece and the United Kingdom have indicated concurrence with the proposed extension. The Government of Turkey has indicated that it concurs with and supports the position of the Turkish Cypriot side, as expressed in previous meetings of the Security Council on the extension of the mandate of UNFICYP.

In a letter to the Security Council on his mission of good offices to Cyprus (document S/1998/1166), the Secretary-General reports that since the Deputy Special Representative for Cyprus had begun a process of on-island "shuttle talks" to reduce tension and promote progress, the flexible approach of both sides has provided hope for tangible progress in achieving the objectives in three core clusters of problems in Cyprus: tension reduction, core issues and humanitarian/goodwill issues. Elements being discussed include: a commitment to rejecting force; a commitment to preventing military expansion and to reciprocal reductions; and agreement to the package of measures for reducing tension proposed by UNFICYP, including demining.

There is a declared objective that both sides will continue working with the Deputy Special Representative, the Secretary-General concludes. Further, both sides had indicated the wish that the Secretary-General continue his initiative. The Secretary-General therefore welcomes the progress being made, commends the two leaders involved and urges both parties to promote a climate of reconciliation and genuine mutual confidence, especially by avoiding actions increasing tension.

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For information media. Not an official record.