|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6445th Meeting (AM)
Extending Mandate of United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, Security Council
Calls for Plan to Resolve Outstanding Differences between Rival Communities
Calling on the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders to develop a plan for overcoming remaining differences before the Secretary-General’s visit in January 2011, the Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force on Cyprus (UNFICYP) until 15 June 2011.
By a vote of 14 in favour to 1 against ( Turkey), the Council adopted resolution 1953 (2010), which urged the two sides to put confidence-building measures in place, including the opening of additional crossing points. Welcoming the progress made thus far in “fully fledged” negotiations, it called on the leaders to intensify the momentum of negotiations by engaging each other in a constructive and open manner, and to improve the public atmosphere through the delivery of more constructive and harmonized messages.
Also by the resolution, the Council called on the two sides to continue to engage as a matter of urgency, in consultation with UNFICYP, on demarcation of the buffer zone and on the 1989 United Nations aide memoire, with a view to reaching early agreement on outstanding issues. It also called on Turkish Cypriot and Turkish forces to restore the military status quo existing in Strovilia prior to 30 June 2009.
Speaking in explanation of his negative vote, Turkey’s representative said he objected, as before, to implications contained in the resolution regarding the existence of a “Government of Cyprus”, saying the island had not had a joint Government representing all its people since 1963.
The resolution also fell short of containing all the Secretary-General’s observations, particularly those stressing that the talks could not be open-ended and that the window was rapidly closing. He said there should be a strong evocation of that statement as well as stronger support for the Secretary-General’s Special Representative.
He reaffirmed, however, that the Turkish side would continue to implement the provisions of the resolution, and that an agreement that met the needs of both sides could be reached. Turkey would continue to support the efforts of the Secretary-General and cooperate with UNFICYP, he said.
The meeting began at 10:25 a.m. and ended at 10:31 a.m.
The full text of resolution 1953 (2010) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Welcoming the reports of the Secretary-General of 29 November 2010 (S/2010/605) on the United Nations operation in Cyprus and of 24 November 2010 (S/2010/603) on his mission of good offices 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 December 2010,
“Echoing the Secretary-General’s firm belief that the responsibility for finding a solution lies first and foremost with the Cypriots themselves, 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,
“Welcoming the progress made so far in the fully fledged negotiations, and the leaders’ joint statements, including those of 23 May and 1 July 2008,
“Expressing concern at the slow pace of progress in recent months, stressing that the status quo is unsustainable and that there now exists a unique opportunity to make decisive progress in a timely fashion, and strongly urging the leaders to increase the momentum in the negotiations to ensure the full exploitation of this opportunity to reach an enduring, comprehensive and just 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, echoing the Secretary-General’s view that a solution is well within reach, and looking forward to decisive progress in the near future building on the progress made to date,
“Welcoming the efforts of the Secretary-General to stimulate progress during his meeting with the two leaders on 18 November 2010, his intention to meet with the two leaders in January 2011, and noting his intention to submit to the Security Council in February 2011 an updated assessment on the state of the process,
“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, welcoming the opening of the Limnitis/Yesilirmak crossing point in October 2010 and encouraging the opening by mutual agreement of other crossing points,
“Convinced of the many important benefits for all Cypriots that would flow from a comprehensive and durable Cyprus settlement, urging the two sides and their leaders to foster positive public rhetoric, and encouraging them clearly to explain the benefits of the settlement, as well as the need for increased flexibility and compromise in order to secure it, to both communities well in advance of any eventual referenda,
“Considering that undermining the United Nations credibility undermines the peace process itself,
“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, and urging all sides to avoid any action which could lead to an increase in tension, undermine the 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, looking forward to the clearance of the remaining minefields, and urging agreement on extension of demining operations to other remaining areas,
“Welcoming also the progress and continuation of the important activities of the Committee on Missing Persons, 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 also 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, and the efforts of Lisa Buttenheim as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative,
“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, and expressing appreciation to Member States that contribute personnel to UNFICYP,
“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 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;
“2. Takes note of the recommendations of the report of the Secretary-General (S/2010/603) and calls upon the two leaders to:
(a) intensify the momentum of negotiations, and engage in the process in a constructive and open manner, including by developing a practical plan for overcoming the major remaining points of disagreement in preparation for their meeting with the Secretary-General in January 2011;
(b) improve the public atmosphere in which the negotiations are proceeding, including by focusing public messages on convergences and the way ahead, and delivering more constructive and harmonised messages; and
(c) increase the participation of civil society in the process as appropriate;
“3. Urges 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;
“4. Reaffirms all its relevant resolutions on Cyprus, in particular resolution 1251 (1999) of 29 June 1999 and subsequent resolutions;
“5. Expresses its full support for UNFICYP and decides to extend its mandate for a further period ending 15 June 2011;
“6. 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;
“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, including on contingency planning in relation to the settlement, by 1 June 2011 and to keep the Security Council updated on events as necessary;
“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.”
The Security Council had before it the report of the Secretary-General on his mission of good offices in Cyprus (document S/2010/603), in which the Secretary-General warns that talks to reunite the Mediterranean island could “founder fatally” unless substantive agreement is reached in the next few months. For that reason, he calls on the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders to ready by January a practical plan to overcome major differences. “I fear a critical window of opportunity is rapidly closing,” the Secretary-General says in reference to United Nations-sponsored talks seeking the establishment of a federal Government with a single international personality in a bizonal, bicommunal country comprising Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot Constituent States of equal status.
Citing fundamental differences on the issue of property on the island, where a United Nations peacekeeping mission has been in place since intercommunal violence erupted in 1974, the report notes that parliamentary elections scheduled for May in the south, as well as June polls in Turkey, militate against constructive negotiations in the second quarter of 2011. While the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders have met 88 times since the start of negotiations in 2008, advancing in some areas, there has been “a worrying lack of progress” in six months of talks on currently irreconcilable difference over property rights, says the Secretary-General, who met with the two leaders on 18 November in New York.
According to the report, the Greek Cypriots say those with property in the north should be able to seek reinstatement, while Turkish Cypriots say that if the reinstatement of all Greek Cypriot property owners there were allowed, it would be impossible for Turkish Cypriots to secure bizonality. They call for a ceiling on the number of those who can have their properties reinstated, rather than compensation. “We must be clear that, in order to negotiate successfully a bizonal, bicommunal federation, the two leaders will have to reconcile these and other seemingly irreconcilable issues,” the Secretary-General writes, calling on Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu to “dedicate significant efforts” to preparing a practical plan for overcoming major remaining points of disagreement when he meets with them again in January.
He also warns against inflammatory statements that could further stoke public scepticism over the talks, noting that despite the collegial atmosphere in which the leaders engage each other, their subsequent public rhetoric has not conveyed a sense that the negotiations are moving forward. Also, political leaders, both in Government and the opposition, have accused the other side of undermining the talks, the outcome of which must be approved in separate, simultaneous referenda. The Secretary-General encourages leaders to step forward, individually and jointly, to deliver more constructive and harmonized messages so as to enhance public trust and support for the peace process, thereby making the task of the senior leaders easier. Civil society can play an important role in supporting the leaders and the process, he adds.
The Council also had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (document S/2010/605) covering developments from 21 May 2010 to November 2010, in which the Secretary-General calls for the renewal of the 46-year-old mission’s mandate for another six months, until 15 June. He cites its work with Alexander Downer, his Special Adviser on the talks, and with other United Nations agencies “actively engaged in promoting an atmosphere conducive to the negotiations”.
According to the report, the overall number of violations in the buffer zone has declined, but low-level exercises near the ceasefire lines unnecessarily cause tensions and should be avoided. UNFICYP, with more than 900 uniformed personnel, continues to work closely with the two communities in resolving practical day-to-day issues, including civilian use of the buffer zone. “Such efforts are important in building confidence and positive relations between the communities, and I call on both sides to continue to support UNFICYP in that regard,” the Secretary-General states.
* *** *