|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5696th Meeting (AM)
Security Council extends mandate on Cyprus force until 15 December,
Unanimously adopting resolution 1758 (2007)
Notes Lack of Progress on Process Started Last July;
Reaffirms Status Quo Unacceptable, Negotiations at Impasse for Too Long
The Security Council, expressing its full support for the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), extended the mandate of this 43-year-old mission through 15 December 2007.
Unanimously adopting resolution 1758 (2007) this morning, the Council also noted with concern the lack of progress on “the 8 July process”, calling upon all parties to immediately engage constructively with the United Nations efforts and demonstrate measurable progress in order to allow fully fledged negotiations to begin, and to cease mutual recriminations. The Council reaffirmed that the status quo is unacceptable, that time is not on the side of a settlement, and that negotiations on a final political solution to the Cyprus problem have been at an impasse for too long.
On 8 July last year, the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders 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 the terms of the text adopted today, the Council also called on both sides to engage, as a matter of urgency and while respecting UNFICYP’s mandate, in consultations with the Force on the demarcation of the buffer zone, in particular in relation to the Ledra Street crossing point, with a view to reaching agreement on the United Nations 1989 aide-memoire. It reaffirmed all its relevant resolutions on Cyprus, and called on the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkish forces to restore in Strovilia the military status quo that had existed there prior to 30 June 2000.
Prior to action on the draft, Security Council President for the month of June, Johan Verbeke ( Belgium), informed its members that he had met with the representatives of the parties, who had confirmed that they maintained their well-known positions vis-à-vis the item on the Council’s agenda. On the basis of those meetings, with the consent of the members of the Council, he had drawn the conclusion that the Council could proceed to take a decision on the text, which had been submitted by China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States.
The meeting began at 10:12 a.m. and was adjourned at 10:13 a.m.
“The Security Council,
“Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General of 4 June 2007 (S/2007/328) 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 June 2007,
“Echoing the Secretary-General’s firm belief that the responsibility of finding a solution lies first and foremost with the Cypriots themselves and 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,
“Taking note of the assessment of the Secretary-General that the security situation on the island and along the Green Line remains generally stable, but noting with concern the increase in the overall number of violations of the buffer zone, and urging both sides to avoid any action which could lead to an increase in tension,
“Underlining that activity in the buffer zone should not be at the expense of stability and security, and noting the Secretary-General’s firm belief that the situation in the buffer zone would be improved if both sides accepted the 1989 aide-memoire used by the United Nations,
“Welcoming the principles and decisions enshrined in the 8 July 2006 Agreement, stressing 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,
“Noting, with regret, the failure to date to implement the 8 July 2006 Agreement, and urging the leaders of both communities to act to start the process without delay in order to prepare the ground for fully fledged negotiations leading to a comprehensive and durable settlement,
“Regretting that demining activity in the buffer zone has stalled, welcoming the provision by the European Union of funds to support these activities, and urging the Turkish Forces and the Turkish Cypriot side to allow the resumption of demining activities,
“Reiterating its call to the parties to assess and address the humanitarian issue of all missing persons with due urgency and seriousness, and welcoming in this regard the progress and continuation of the important activities of the Committee on Missing Persons; expressing the hope that this process will promote reconciliation between the communities,
“Welcoming the continuing crossings of the Green Line by Cypriots and encouraging further progress on other confidence-building measures, such as the opening of additional crossing points including, but not limited to, at Ledra Street, taking into account the arrangements already in place at existing crossing points,
“Welcoming all efforts to promote bicommunal contacts and events, including, inter alia, on the part of all United Nations bodies on the island urging the two sides to promote the active engagement of civil society and the encouragement of cooperation between economic and commercial bodies and to remove all 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 all Cypriots, and to promote reconciliation and build trust in order to facilitate a comprehensive 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,
“Noting the unacceptable accommodation conditions endured by many UNFICYP troops, and welcoming the recent commitment by the Republic of Cyprus to address this issue without delay,
“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;
“2. Expresses full support for the 8 July process, notes with concern the lack of progress, and calls upon all parties to immediately engage constructively with the United Nations efforts, as described in Under-Secretary-General Gambari’s letter of 15 November 2006, to demonstrate measurable progress in order to allow fully fledged negotiations to begin, and to cease mutual recriminations;
“3. Reaffirms all its relevant resolutions on Cyprus, in particular resolution 1251 (1999) of 29 June 1999 and subsequent resolutions;
“4. Reaffirms that the status quo is unacceptable, that time is not on the side of a settlement, and that negotiations on a final political solution to the Cyprus problem have been at an impasse for too long;
“5. Expresses its full support for UNFICYP and decides to extend its mandate for a further period ending 15 December 2007;
“6. Calls on both sides to engage, as a matter of urgency and while respecting UNFICYP’s mandate, in consultations with UNFICYP on the demarcation of the buffer zone, in particular in relation to the Ledra Street crossing point, with a view to reaching agreement on the United Nations 1989 aide-memoire;
“7. 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;
“8. Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report on implementation of this resolution by 1 December 2007;
“9. 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;
“10. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”
When the Security Council met today to consider the situation in Cyprus, it had before it the Secretary-General’s latest report on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus (document S/2007/328), which covers developments from 25 November 2006 to 25 May 2007. Noting that, in the absence of a comprehensive settlement, the presence of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus remains important, the Secretary-General recommends that the Council extend the Force’s mandate by a further six months, until 15 December 2007. At the same time, there may be a need for further review of the operation at an appropriate juncture.
The Secretary-General notes that, during the last six months, the situation along the ceasefire lines has remained generally calm and stable. The opposing forces extended cooperation to UNFICYP and generally refrained from actions that could disrupt efforts to resume political negotiations. However, safety and stability in the buffer zone continued to be negatively affected by members of the civilian population seeking to exercise their property rights in the buffer zone in disregard of security considerations. In that connection, UNFICYP will continue to support civilian activities in the buffer zone in full respect of ownership rights. Such activities, however, will not be allowed at the expense of stability and security for which the United Nations bears direct responsibility.
The Secretary-General says he firmly believes that the situation would improve further if both sides accepted the 1989 aide-memoire used by the United Nations to regulate activities in the buffer zone for the past 18 years. “I call on both sides to accept it without delay”, he states.
In the absence of a comprehensive settlement, UNFICYP has played an important role in maintaining peace and security in Cyprus, the report continues. The international community’s current involvement, however, should not be taken for granted. After a 43-year presence in Cyprus, the value added of UNFICYP, particularly in the absence of significant progress on the political process, is increasingly being questioned by various actors in the international community.
Despite the absence of significant progress, the parties have taken small but incremental steps in the right direction, the Secretary-General adds. There had been a sustained dialogue between the representatives of the two leaders on the modalities for the launching of the bicommunal working groups and the bicommunal technical committees. While the 8 July agreement is yet to be implemented, it should be noted that the two sides have come close, on several occasions, to reaching agreement on the start of the process.
A sustained dialogue between the two sides is itself no small achievement, in light of the continuing mistrust between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots, especially since the 2004 referendum, the report notes. “The time has come, however, to move from talks about procedure to substance”, the Secretary-General states. The work of the last 16 months should be brought to fruition, with the implementation of the 8 July agreement. In this regard, the parties are once again reminded of the repeated calls by the Council for its implementation.
“It is high time that the considerable convergence of positions be translated into action. In this regard, and in order to build trust between the sides, I urge both leaders to honour their written commitment and bring to an end the ongoing mutual recriminations, which only serve to undermine the process,” the Secretary-General states, adding he regrets to be unable to report any meaningful improvement in the atmosphere in which Cypriots of both sides are allowed to engage in bicommunal contacts. Unhindered interaction aimed at building trust between the communities is in line with the spirit and letter of the July agreement.
The Secretary-General says it is his firm belief that the responsibility of finding a solution lies first and foremost with the Cypriots themselves. The United Nations remains committed to supporting a political process and facilitating reconciliation. It is essential that the parties demonstrate their readiness to match words and deeds through sincere efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement.
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