SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF CYPRUS PEACEKEEPING FORCE, URGE

29 June 1998
SC/6538

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF CYPRUS PEACEKEEPING FORCE, URGE

29/06/1998
Press ReleaseSC/6538

Security Council

3898th Meeting (Night)

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF CYPRUS PEACEKEEPING FORCE, URGES PARTIES

TO AVOID ACTIONS INCREASING TENSION AND RESUME DIRECT DIALOGUE

          Resolutions 1178 (1998) and 1179 (1998) Adopted Unanimously

In adopting two resolutions on the situation in Cyprus, the Security Council this evening decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for a further six months until

31 December and called on the parties concerned to avoid any actions which might increase tension, including through further expansion of military forces and armaments.

By unanimously adopting resolution 1178 (1998), the Council called on the parties to reduce defence spending and the number of foreign troops in Cyprus.  That would help restore confidence between the parties and as a first step towards the withdrawal of non-Cypriot forces.  It also reiterated its grave concern at the continuing excessive and increasing levels of military forces and armament on Cyprus and the rate at which they were 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.  Stressing the importance of eventual demilitarization of the Republic of Cyprus as an objective in the context of an overall

comprehensive settlement, the Council encouraged the Secretary-General to continue to promote efforts in that direction. 

The Council also underlined the importance of early agreement to the reciprocal measures for the reduction of tension along the ceasefire lines

proposed and subsequently adapted by UNFICYP.  It encouraged UNFICYP to continue its efforts towards that end, noting that only one side had so far accepted that package.  Further, the Council called on the leaders of the two communities to continue the discussions on security issues begun on 26 September 1997.

The Council reiterated its support for the efforts of the United Nations and others concerned to promote the holding of bi-communal events in order to

build cooperation trust and mutual respect between the two communities.  It regretted the suspension of such activities by the Turkish Cypriot leadership

and urged both sides, and in particular the Turkish Cypriot side, to facilitate arrangements within which bi-communal contacts could take place uninterrupted

and without formalities.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1179 (1998), the Council stressed its support for the Secretary-General's mission of good offices and the importance of working with him towards an overall comprehensive settlement.  It welcomed the Secretary-General's intention to continue to explore possibilities that might lead to a new momentum in that process.

The Council called on the leaders of the two Cypriot communities, in particular the Turkish Cypriot side, to commit themselves to that process of negotiations, to cooperate actively and constructively with the Secretary-General and his Special Adviser, and to resume the direct dialogue without further delay.  All States were urged to lend their full support to those efforts.

Furthermore, 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, and comprising two politically equal communities as described in the relevant Security Council resolutions, in a bi-communal and bi-zonal federation.  Such a settlement must exclude union in whole or in part with any other country or any other form of partition or secession.

The meeting, which was called to order at 6:06 p.m,, was adjourned at 6:09 p.m.

Resolutions Adopted

The text of resolution 1178 (1998) is as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations operation in Cyprus of 10 June 1998 (S/1998/488 and Add.1),

"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 30 June 1998,

"Reaffirming all its earlier resolutions on Cyprus,

"Noting with concern that tensions along the ceasefire lines and restrictions to UNFICYP's freedom of movement continue,

"1.   Decides to extend the mandate of UNFICYP for a further period ending on 31 December 1998;

"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.   Underlines the importance of early agreement to the reciprocal measures for the reduction of tension along the ceasefire lines proposed and subsequently adapted by UNFICYP, notes the fact that only one side has so far accepted this package, calls for early agreement to and rapid implementation of reciprocal measures and encourages UNFICYP to continue its efforts towards that end;

"5.   Reiterates its grave concern at the continuing excessive and increasing 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;

"6.   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;

"7.   Calls upon the leaders of the two communities to resume the discussions on security issues begun on 26 September 1997;

"8.   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, and also the progress in the implementation of recommendations arising out of the humanitarian review undertaken by UNFICYP in 1995, as mentioned in the report of the Secretary-General;

"9.   Welcomes also the appointment of the new third member of the Committee on Missing Persons, and calls for implementation without delay of the agreement on missing persons of 31 July 1997;

"10.  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, regrets the suspension of such activity by the Turkish Cypriot leadership and urges both sides, and in particular the Turkish Cypriot side, to facilitate arrangements within which bi‑communal contacts can take place uninterrupted and without formalities;

"11.  Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report by 10 December 1998 on the implementation of this resolution;

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

The text of resolution 1179 (1998) is as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General on his Mission of Good Offices in Cyprus of 16 June 1998 (S/1998/518),

"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,

"Reiterating its growing concern that negotiations on a comprehensive

political solution have yet to make progress, despite the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Adviser and others in support of the United Nations efforts to promote a comprehensive settlement,

"1.   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;

"2.   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;

"3.   Stresses its full support for the Secretary-General's mission of

good offices and for the efforts of his Special Adviser on Cyprus to resume a sustained process of direct negotiations aimed at achieving a comprehensive settlement on the basis of the relevant Security Council resolutions, and stresses also the importance of concerted efforts to work with the Secretary-General to that end;

"4.   Welcomes the intention of the Secretary-General to continue to explore possibilities that may lead to a new momentum in this process of negotiations;

"5.   Calls once again upon the leaders of the two communities, in particular the Turkish Cypriot side, to commit themselves to this process of negotiations, to cooperate actively and constructively with the Secretary-General and his Special Adviser and to resume the direct dialogue without further delay, and urges all States to lend their full support to these efforts;

"6.   Further calls in this context upon all parties concerned to create a climate for reconciliation and genuine mutual confidence on both sides, and to avoid any actions which might increase tension, including through further expansion of military forces and armaments;

"7.   Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report by 10 December

1998 on the implementation of this resolution;

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

Council Work Programme

When this Council met tonight, it had before it the Secretary-General's

report on the United Nation's operation in Cyprus (document S/1998/488), in which he states that the presence of UNFICYP on the island remains indispensable in

maintaining the ceasefire between the two sides and recommends the extension of the Force's mandate for a further period of six months until 31 December.  Its current mandate expires on 30 June.

According to the report, which covers developments from 8 December 1997 to 8 June 1998, the situation along the ceasefire lines in Cyprus was relatively

calm, despite continued tension.  Both sides continued to dispute the delineation of their respective ceasefire lines in a number of areas within the United

Nations buffer zone, often challenging the authority of UNFICYP.  At times, that created friction between UNFICYP and the opposing forces as they moved forward

into the buffer zone or overmanned their ceasefire lines in the disputed areas.

As in the previous reporting period, both sides ignored UNFICYP protests

of the more serious violations of the military status quo by continuing military construction along, and in close proximity to, the ceasefire lines, the report

says.  Those included anti‑tank ditches and other defensive fortifications east and south-east of Nicosia, and a network of bunkers with connecting trenches to the west of the Old City of Nicosia.  Such construction tended to increase

tension along the ceasefire lines.  There were also a number of shooting incidents, which, in most cases, were heard, but not observed, by UNFICYP. 

The report says the Council's repeated appeals for reductions in defence spending and in the number of foreign military troops have not been heeded by either side.  The military forces and armaments in Cyprus continued to be expanded, upgraded and modernized on both sides.  It is estimated that there are over 30,000 Turkish forces and some 4,500 Turkish Cypriot troops on the island.  The National Guard's strength is approximately 14,500.

According to the report, the Force's freedom of movement in the northern part of the island continued to be restricted, and UNFICYP remained subject to stricter limitations than those imposed on tourists and foreign diplomats.  During the period under review, the National Guard restricted movement by UNFICYP humanitarian personnel at the Potamia checkpoint on several occasions.

The report also states that there has been no progress concerning the package of reciprocal measures proposed by UNFICYP to reduce tension along the ceasefire lines, in spite of the Council's calls for early agreement to and rapid implementation of those measures.  The measures, which took into account the concerns of both sides, would significantly improve the atmosphere and

reduce the potential for violations of the ceasefire.  The military authorities in the north have reconfirmed their acceptance of the UNFICYP package of measures in its entirety.

The National Guard has accepted the code of conduct and the prohibition of loaded weapons, but has continued to reject UNFICYP proposals for the unmanning of positions in close proximity to each other on the grounds that it would leave the inhabitants of Nicosia unprotected.  The National Guard has made counter‑

proposals, which would not contribute to the objective of creating distance between the soldiers deployed on each side of the buffer zone.  Regarding the

Dherinia area, the National Guard's counter‑proposal would entail the unmanning

of the entire area between Dherinia and Varosha and would go well beyond the limited objective of creating distance between the opposing forces. 

On 26 December 1997, the Turkish Cypriot authorities announced that all bi‑communal activities would be suspended, the report says.  Despite repeated requests, the Turkish Cypriot authorities have continued to prevent Turkish Cypriot participation in bi‑communal meetings on the island.  The Secretary-General urges both sides, and in particular the Turkish Cypriot side, to facilitate arrangements within which bi‑communal contacts can take place uninterrupted and without formalities.

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, the report states.  During the current reporting period, the Turkish Cypriot authorities lifted most age restrictions for Greek Cypriot and Maronite children visiting their families in the north, although the age limit of 16 remains in force for Greek Cypriot boys.

In mid‑February, the report states that the Turkish Cypriot side imposed new regulations and fees for entry to and exit from the north.  Greek Cypriots and Maronites from the southern part of Cyprus visiting relatives residing in the northern part must pay a fee of ?15 per adult per visit.  All residents in the northern part travelling to the southern part have to pay a ?4 transit charge, or ?10 per month for multiple visits.  The new charges have significantly reduced the number of Greek Cypriots and Maronites visiting their relatives in the northern part of Cyprus.  Effective 17 April, Maronites were granted a reduction of the charges to ?4 per visit per adult or ?30 per year for multiple visits for the entire family.  The charges for Greek Cypriots remain unchanged.

On 23 January, the two sides met to exchange information concerning the location of graves of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot missing persons, the report states.  Yet, on 30 April, the Turkish Cypriot representative stated that he would not discuss the return of the remains of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot missing persons until the Greek Cypriot side agreed to first investigate the fate of the Greek Cypriot victims of the coup d'état against Archbishop Makarios in 1974.  That position deviated from the 31 July 1997 agreement, which calls on the two sides to work out arrangements for the exhumation and identification of the remains located in the graves.  No progress has been made towards the implementation of that agreement, and the Greek Cypriot side has since decided to exhume and identify the remains located in graves in the area under its control.

The General Assembly is currently considering the proposed budget for the maintenance of UNFICYP for the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999, the report states.  Should the Council decide to extend the mandate of UNFICYP beyond 30 June, the annual cost of maintaining the Force would be about

$43 million gross (document A/52/775/Add.1).

The Council also had before it the Secretary-General's report on his mission of good offices in Cyprus (document S/1998/518).  In letters dated

26 February to the leaders of the two Cypriot communities, the Secretary-General expressed his hope that both sides would spare no effort to reach an agreement with his Special Adviser, Diego Cordovez, on arrangements for a continuing and sustained process of direct negotiations.  In additional letters delivered to the two leaders personally by Mr. Cordovez, the Secretary-General called on the parties to overcome the obstacles which had impeded progress towards a solution acceptable to the people of Cyprus and to the international community.

From 18 to 22 March, the Secretary-General's Special Adviser visited the island and met with the two leaders.  The President of Cyprus, Glafcos

Clerides, reiterated his readiness to resume direct talks on the basis of the relevant Council resolutions.  The leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, Rauf Denktash, elaborated on his view that it was necessary to adopt a new approach based on the "acknowledgment of the existence of two fully functioning democratic States on the island".  On 28 March, the Secretary-General with Mr. Denktash at Geneva at his request.

Following his visit to Cyprus, the Special Adviser was received in Ankara by the Prime Minister of Turkey, who expressed his full support for the Secretary-General's mission of good offices.  A similar statement of support had been conveyed by the Prime Minister of Greece on an earlier occasion.  The Secretary-General called on all the parties involved to abstain from actions which could further exacerbate tension.  The Secretary-General's Special Adviser intended to visit Cyprus in the coming weeks to continue to explore possibilities that might lead to a new momentum.

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For information media. Not an official record.