|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5593rd Meeting (AM)
SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF CYPRUS FORCE UNTIL 15 JUNE 2007,
UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1728 (2006)
The Security Council, reaffirming the importance of keeping the operations of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) under close review, with possible further adjustments to its mandate, force levels and concept of operation as soon as warranted, today extended the presence of the 42-year-old Force on the island for a further period, until 15 June 2007.
Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1728 (2006), the Council welcomed the progress made by both sides -– Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots -- particularly developments since 8 July, and expressed appreciation for the Secretary-General’s efforts over the last 10 years, and those of his staff, aimed at achieving a comprehensive solution.
On 8 July, the Greek Cypriot leader and the Turkish Cypriot leader had signed a set of principles and decisions recognizing that the status quo was unacceptable and that a comprehensive settlement was both desirable and possible. They agreed to begin immediately a two-track process involving discussions by technical committees of issues affecting the day-to-day life of the people and, concurrently, consideration by working groups of substantive issues, leading to a comprehensive settlement. They also committed to ending mutual recriminations.
By today’s resolution, the Council expressed full support for the process agreed by the leaders, encouraged active participation in bicommunal discussions, as described in Under-Secretary-General Ibrahim Gambari’s letter of 15 November, and called for early completion of the preparatory phase so that a fully-fledged good offices process might resume as soon as possible.
The Council reaffirmed all its relevant resolutions on Cyprus, and called on both sides to restore in Strovilia the military status quo, which had existed there prior to 30 June 2000.
Adamantios TH. Vassilakis ( Greece), speaking before the vote, noted that today was the last time Greece would be participating in the Council as a non-permanent member on an issue of utmost importance for his country. All were well aware of the ever increasing global demands on United Nations peacekeeping and were mindful that UNIFCYP would not stay one day more than absolutely necessary. He hoped that day would come soon. In the meantime, and in the absence of a comprehensive settlement and the withdrawal of all occupation troops from the island, UNFICYP was necessary. Despite many and quite intensive efforts over the years, 32 years after the Turkish military invasion, its resolution remained elusive. He remained hopeful that the lessons learned would guide the Council in the search for a functional and workable solution acceptable to all.
A Cypriot-owned solution through a Cypriot-owned process with the international community’s invaluable assistance was the way forward, he said. While that way would be difficult, no step was small if it was in the right, forward-looking direction. Step-by-step approaches could lead to major breakthroughs. The present status quo was unsustainable. The two communities had agreed on the basic form of reunification of the island, a bizonal, bicommunal federation. The 8 July agreement provided a platform on which to work to move the political process forward and lead to a comprehensive, permanent and durable settlement that respected international legality. He thanked members for their cooperation and understanding of the difficulties of a particularly complex problem.
The meeting began at 10:28 a.m. and was adjourned at 10:36 a.m.
The full text of resolution 1728 (2006) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General of 1 December 2006 (S/2006/931) on the United Nations operation in Cyprus,
“Noting that the Government of Cyprus is agreed that in view of the prevailing conditions in the island it is necessary to keep UNFICYP beyond 15 December 2006,
“Taking note of the assessment of the Secretary-General that the security situation on the island continues to be generally stable and that the situation along the Green Line remains calm, and welcoming the decrease in the overall number of incidents involving the two sides,
“Urging both sides to avoid any action which could lead to an increase in tension such as military exercises and, in this context, noting with concern that disagreements have arisen over civilian activities in the buffer zone, including farming and construction, and encouraging both sides to engage in consultations with UNFICYP on the demarcation of the buffer zone, respecting UNFICYP’s mandate, and to reach an agreed approach to UNFICYP’s operations in the buffer zone on the basis of the United Nations 1989 aide-memoire,
“Expressing its strong appreciation for the work of Under-Secretary-General Gambari in achieving the 8 July agreement and welcoming the principles and decisions enshrined therein, including recognition that the status quo is unacceptable and that a comprehensive settlement based on a bicommunal, bizonal federation and political equality, as set out in the relevant Security Council resolutions, is both desirable and possible and should not be further delayed, but noting, with regret, the Secretary-General’s assessment that continued lack of trust between the parties has so far prevented the implementation of any of those decisions, underlining the need to implement the 8 July agreement without further delay, and expressing the hope that the recent positive reaction of the leaders of both communities to suggestions by the United Nations will result in the finalisation of the preparatory phase as soon as possible in order to prepare the ground for fully-fledged negotiations leading to a comprehensive and durable settlement,
“Welcoming continued progress in demining, expressing strong support for UNFICYP’s efforts to extend demining operations to Turkish Forces minefields in the rest of the buffer zone, and welcoming the prospect that it could be declared free of mines within two years,
“Reiterating its call to the parties to assess and address the humanitarian issue of missing persons with due urgency and seriousness, and welcoming in this regard the resumption of the activities of the Committee on Missing Persons since August 2004, and the progress which has since been made, as well as the appointment by the Secretary-General of a third member,
“Welcoming the continuing crossings by Greek Cypriots to the north and Turkish Cypriots to the south which have taken place peacefully, and encouraging early progress on other confidence-building measures, such as the opening of additional crossing points, including at Ledra Street,
“Welcoming all efforts to promote bicommunal contacts and events, including, inter alia, on the part of the United Nations, and urging the two sides to promote further bicommunal contacts and to remove any obstacles to such contacts,
“Expressing concern, in this respect, that opportunities for constructive public debate about the future of the island, within and between the communities, are becoming fewer, and that this atmosphere is hampering, in particular, efforts to foster bicommunal activities intended to benefit Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and to promote reconciliation and build trust in order to facilitate a comprehensive settlement,
“Noting the primary role of the United Nations in assisting the parties to bring the Cyprus conflict and division of the island to a comprehensive and durable settlement,
“Reaffirming the importance of the Secretary-General continuing to keep the operations of UNFICYP under close review while continuing to take into account developments on the ground and the views of the parties, and reverting to the Council with recommendations as appropriate for further adjustments to UNFICYP’s mandate, force levels and concept of operation as soon as warranted,
“Echoing the Secretary-General’s gratitude to the Government of Cyprus and the Government of Greece for their voluntary contributions to the funding of UNFICYP, and his request for further voluntary contributions from other countries and organizations,
“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. Welcomes the observations in the Secretary-General’s report on progress since June, and in particular on developments since 8 July, and expresses appreciation for his personal efforts over the last 10 years, and those of his staff, aimed at achieving a comprehensive solution;
“2. Reaffirms all its relevant resolutions on Cyprus, in particular resolution 1251 (1999) of 29 June 1999 and subsequent resolutions;
“3. Expresses its full support for UNFICYP, including its mandate in the buffer zone, and decides to extend its mandate for a further period ending 15 June 2007;
“4. Calls on the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkish forces to restore in Strovilia the military status quo which existed there prior to 30 June 2000;
“5. Expresses full support for the process agreed by the leaders, encourages active participation in bicommunal discussions as described in Under-Secretary-General Gambari’s letter of 15 November 2006, under the auspices of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and calls for early completion of the preparatory phase so that a fully-fledged good offices process may resume as soon as possible;
“6. Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report on implementation of this resolution by 1 June 2007;
“7. Welcomes the efforts being undertaken by UNFICYP to implement the Secretary-General’s zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to ensure full compliance of its personnel with the United Nations code of conduct, requests the Secretary-General to continue to take all necessary action in this regard and to keep the Security Council informed, and urges troop-contributing countries to take appropriate preventive action including the conduct of predeployment awareness training, and to take disciplinary action and other action to ensure full accountability in cases of such conduct involving their personnel;
“8. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”
The Security Council had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations operation in Cyprus (document S/2006/931). In the absence of a comprehensive settlement, UNFICYP continues to play a vital role, the Secretary-General states, recommending that the Council extend the Force’s mandate by a further six-month period, until 15 June 2007.
The report notes that, during the reporting period, which covers the period from 18 May to 27 November, the situation in Cyprus remained calm and stable with no major violations of the ceasefire lines. Although both opposing forces continued to challenge the existing delineation of the ceasefire lines, the overall cooperation with UNFICYP resulted in a lack of serious incidents in the buffer zone. Full acceptance by the opposing forces of the 1989 United Nations aide-memoire concerning activities in the buffer zone would further improve the situation, the Secretary-General notes, calling on the sides to consider this without delay. In the same spirit, he encourages a reflection on the various military and other confidence-building measures that have been proposed over the past 18 years, including the withdrawal of troops from the ceasefire lines.
The Secretary-General expresses concern about the increasing pressure from the civilian population, particularly the Greek Cypriots, to expand construction projects in the buffer zone, a trend that could undermine security conditions. Civilian activities in the area between the ceasefire lines, including farming, cannot take place at the expense of stability and security, for which UNFICYP is responsible. At the same time, the trend towards increased construction on the Turkish Cypriot side is a cause of concern, as it may undermine the achievement of a comprehensive settlement.
The steady progress in the clearing of minefields in the buffer zone is a welcome development, the Secretary-General says. More than 50 per cent of mines have been cleared and destroyed, while the rest should be removed within two years. Significant progress has been achieved during the reporting period on the issue of missing persons. With the assistance of the new third member of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus, both sides have managed to advance in the exhumation and identification process in the newly established anthropological laboratory. This is an example of a commendable effort by Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot scientists, with the support of international donors.
The Secretary-General expresses concern at the continuing implementation -– and in some cases strengthening –- of policies that are against the spirit and letter of the 8 July agreement, by which both sides made a commitment to ensure that the right atmosphere prevails on the island. He also notes with concern the criticism and hampering of the United Nations, and particularly of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) activities to reduce the socio-economic disparities between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities. The obstruction of development and bicommunal activities undermines segments of society and makes it difficult for groups and individuals to contribute to the peace process and the building of trust across divisions.
“Having dealt with the Cyprus issue for 10 years, I cannot but regret the continued stalemate in the political process and the missed opportunities,” the Secretary-General says. Despite almost a decade of continuous efforts by the United Nations, an agreement on a comprehensive settlement has not proved possible. At this juncture, it is important that the implementation of the 8 July agreement begin without further delay. The process should lead to a resumption of fully-fledged political talks within the framework of the mission of good offices. Only if progress is achieved, will the Secretary-General or his successor be in a position to appoint a special adviser on Cyprus, he adds.
The international community’s continued active involvement Cyprus through UNFICYP’s presence should not be taken for granted, the Secretary-General concludes. In that context, both leaders may wish to redouble and refocus their efforts. The responsibility lay primarily with the Cypriots themselves, however. While the United Nations remains committed to lending a helping hand, it is no substitute for genuine political will on the part of all concerned to reach a comprehensive settlement.
* *** *