|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6132nd Meeting (PM)
Security Council authorizes six-month extension of United Nations
Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus as turkey casts negative vote
Strongly urging the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders to increase the momentum in the United Nations-backed talks aimed at reunifying the divided island nation, the Security Council today extended through mid-December the world body’s long-running peacekeeping operation in Cyprus.
By a vote of 14 in favour to 1 against (Turkey), the Council adopted resolution 1873 (2009), which stressed that there now existed a “rare opportunity to make decisive progress”, and reaffirmed the primary role of the United Nations in assisting the parties to bring the Cyprus conflict and the division of the island nation to a comprehensive and durable settlement.
Explaining his negative vote, the representative of non-permanent member Turkey reminded the Council that since 1963, there had not been a joint and constitutional Government representing the whole of Cyprus either legally or functionally. The two peoples had been living separately under their own administrations.
He said that resolution 186 (1964), which had initially set up the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), “following the Greek Cypriot armed offensive against the Turkish Cypriots”, had not been accepted by the Turkish Cypriot side or by Turkey. That text, as well as the Council’s subsequent decisions, referred to “the Government of Cyprus”, which had, in fact, been representing only Greek Cypriots since 1963. Furthermore, UNFICYP should have functioned with the open consent of both sides.
That “wrong approach” ‑‑ to consider that administration the sole Government in Cyprus ‑‑ had unfortunately been the sole obstacle to finding a comprehensive and durable solution for the past 45 years, he said. Turkey had never been against the intent behind establishing UNFICYP but it had misgivings about the manner in which the resolutions had been adopted and the language contained in them. Indeed, the Force had long functioned in the northern part of the island with the active participation of the Turkish side. It was for “these stated reasons of principle” that Turkey had voted against the resolution. As ever, Turkey continued to look forward to the day when a durable solution could be reached on the basis of partnership and a bizonal, bicommunal federation.
By the resolution adopted today, the Council welcomed the progress made so far in the fully fledged negotiations and the prospect of further progress in the near future, urging “full exploitation of this opportunity, including by intensifying the momentum of negotiations, improving the current atmosphere of trust and goodwill, and engaging in the process in a constructive and open manner”.
The Council also took note of the Secretary-General’s assessment that the security situation on the island and along the Green Line remained stable, and welcomed the decrease in the overall number of incidents involving the two sides. It urged all sides to avoid any action, including restrictions on UNFICYP’s movements, “which could lead to an increase in tension, undermine the good progress achieved so far, or damage the goodwill on the island”.
Welcoming the Secretary-General’s intention to keep all peacekeeping operations, including those of UNFICYP, under close review, the Security Council requested him to submit a report on implementation of the current resolution, including on contingency planning in relation to the settlement, by 1 December 2009, and to keep the Council updated on events as necessary.
The meeting began at 12:05 p.m. and ended at 12:10 p.m.
The full text of resolution 1873 (2009) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General of 15 May 2009 (S/2009/248) on the United Nations operation in Cyprus,
“Noting that the Government of Cyprus is agreed that in view of the prevailing conditions on the island it is necessary to keep the United Nations Peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) beyond 15 June 2009,
“Echoing the Secretary-General’s firm belief that the responsibility for finding a solution lies first and foremost with the Cypriots themselves, stressing that there now exists a rare opportunity to make decisive progress, and reaffirming 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,
“Commending the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders for the political leadership they have shown, and warmly welcoming the progress made so far in the fully fledged negotiations, and the leaders’ joint statements,
“Strongly urging the leaders to increase the momentum in the negotiations to ensure the full exploitation of this opportunity to reach a comprehensive settlement based on a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality, as set out in the relevant Security Council resolutions,
“Emphasizing the importance attached by the international community of all parties engaging fully, flexibly and constructively in the negotiations, and looking forward to decisive progress in those negotiations in the near future,
“Welcoming the intention of the Secretary-General to keep the Council informed of further development and progress,
“Welcoming also the implementation of some of the confidence-building measures announced by the leaders, and calling for a renewed effort to implement the remaining measures and for agreement on and implementation of further steps to build trust between the communities,
“Reaffirming the importance of continued crossings of the Green Line by Cypriots, encouraging the opening by mutual agreement of other crossing points, noting the commitment in the leaders’ joint statements to pursue the opening of the Limnitis/Yesilirmak crossing point, encouraging implementation of the commitment to a second phase of the restoration of the Ledra Street crossing, and urging in this context the leaders to make every effort to implement those measures,
“Convinced of the many important benefits for all Cypriots that would flow from a comprehensive and durable Cyprus settlement, and encouraging both sides clearly to explain these benefits, as well as the need for increased flexibility and compromise in order to secure them, to both communities well in advance of any eventual referenda,
“Highlighting the supportive role the international community will continue to play in helping the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders to exploit fully the current opportunity,
“Taking note of the assessment of the Secretary-General that the security situation on the island and along the Green Line remains stable, welcoming the decrease in the overall number of incidents involving the two sides and urging all sides to avoid any action, including restrictions on UNFICYP’s movements as noted in the Secretary-General’s report (S/2009/248), which could lead to an increase in tension, undermine the good progress achieved so far, or damage the goodwill on the island,
“Recalling 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 progress made in proceeding with demining activities, and looking forward to the clearance of the remaining minefields,
“Welcoming the progress and continuation of the important activities of the Committee on Missing Persons, echoing the Secretary-General’s call for every possible action to be taken to speed up the exhumation process, and trusting that this process will promote reconciliation between the communities,
“Agreeing that active participation of civil society groups is essential to the political process and can contribute to making any future settlement sustainable, welcoming all efforts to promote bicommunal contacts and events including, inter alia, on the part of all United Nations bodies on the island, and 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,
“Stressing the need for the Council to pursue a rigorous, strategic approach to peacekeeping deployments,
“Welcoming the intention of the Secretary-General to keep all peacekeeping operations, including those of UNFICYP, under close review and noting the importance of contingency planning in relation to the settlement, including recommendations as appropriate for further adjustments to UNFICYP’s mandate, force levels and concept of operations, taking into account developments on the ground and the views of the parties,
“Welcoming the continued efforts of Alexander Downer as the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser with a mandate to assist the parties in the conduct of fully fledged negotiations aimed at reaching a comprehensive settlement,
“Echoing also 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 analysis of developments on the ground over the last six months in the Secretary-General’s report, in accordance with his mandate;
“2. Welcomes also the progress made so far in the fully fledged negotiations, and the prospect of further progress in the near future towards a comprehensive and durable settlement that this has created;
“3. Urges full exploitation of this opportunity, including by intensifying the momentum of negotiations, improving the current atmosphere of trust and goodwill, and engaging in the process in a constructive and open manner;
“4. Urges also the implementation of confidence-building measures, and looks forward to agreement on and implementation of further such steps, including the opening of other crossing points;
“5. Reaffirms all its relevant resolutions on Cyprus, in particular resolution 1251 (1999) of 29 June 1999 and subsequent resolutions;
“6. Expresses its full support for UNFICYP and decides to extend its mandate for a further period ending 15 December 2009;
“7. Calls on both sides to continue to engage, as a matter of urgency and while respecting UNFICYP’s mandate, in consultations with UNFICYP on the demarcation of the buffer zone, and on the United Nations 1989 aide-memoire, with a view to reaching early agreement on outstanding issues;
“8. 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;
“9. Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report on implementation of this resolution, including on contingency planning in relation to the settlement, by 1 December 2009 and to keep the Security Council updated on events as necessary;
“10. 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;
“11. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”
Before the Council was the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations operation in Cyprus (document S/2009/248) covering developments from 24 November 2008 to 10 May 2009, which brings up to date the activities of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and elaborates on the Secretary-General’s good offices mission. In place on the island since the outbreak of inter-communal violence in 1964, the Force is tasked with preventing a recurrence of fighting, contributing to a return to normal conditions and maintaining law and order.
In the report, the Secretary-General recommends a six-month extension of UNFICYP’s mandate until 15 December 2009, pending a comprehensive settlement between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, while encouraging the leaders of both parties to accelerate the momentum in their United Nations-backed reunification talks. “I see a need for an increase in the pace of the talks as the sides start to address issues more holistically. Indeed, the parties themselves recognize that a settlement will be harder to reach as each day passes without a solution.”
The spirit of the negotiations, and the constructive and open manner in which the two leaders are approaching the talks demand that the solution should be achievable “within a reasonable time frame”, he says, recalling that in May 2008, Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat committed themselves to work towards a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality, as defined by relevant Security Council resolutions. The partnership will comprise a Federal Government with a single international personality, as well as a Turkish Cypriot Constituent State and a Greek Cypriot Constituent State of equal status. The two leaders have met more than 25 times since fully fledged power-sharing negotiations began last September, focusing on concerns involving the harmonization of Federal and Constituent State laws, delicate property issues and European Union membership.
While crediting the “close relationship” of the two leaders with a lessening of the “mutual public recriminations” prevalent in the past, the report states: “At the same time, it is discouraging to note that, during the reporting period, polls have clearly shown a high level of scepticism among the respective populations towards the ongoing negotiations.” Since any agreement will have to be accepted through simultaneous popular referendums, the leaders must effectively communicate to their constituencies the economic, political, security and other benefits of a solution, which, in turn, depends on making compromises.
The Secretary-General also voices disappointment that more progress has not been made on the nearly two dozen confidence-building measures the parties have agreed upon, describing the apparent lack of political will to put them in place as “a missed opportunity” to build public support for the process within both communities. However, the situation in the buffer zone between the two sides remained calm during the reporting period, and there was a decrease in military violations. The opposing forces demonstrated restraint and overall good cooperation with UNFICYP. Nevertheless, that generally good cooperation was marred by increased restrictions imposed on the Force by the Turkish forces, which constrain its ability to carry out its mandate and pose significant difficulties for its personnel.
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