October 20, 2017

S/2008/353 – Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations operation in Cyprus

United Nations

S/2008/353

  Security Council Distr.: General

2 June 2008

Original: English

 


REPORT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON THE UNITED NATIONS
OPERATION IN CYPRUS

I. Introduction

 

1.       The present report on the United Nations operation in Cyprus covers developments from 16 November 2007 to 23 May 2008 and brings up to date the record of activities carried out by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) pursuant to Security Council resolution 186 (1964) and subsequent Council resolutions, most recently resolution 1789 (2007).

2.       As at 15 May 2008, the strength of the military component stood at 853, including all ranks, and the strength of the police component stood at 69 (see annex I).

 

         II.   Good offices mission and other developments

 

3.       Since my previous report (S/2007/699 and Corr.1), a number of significant developments have taken place. The February 2008 elections in the Republic of Cyprus brought to power Demetris Christofias who, immediately upon assuming office, expressed his intention to reach out to the Turkish Cypriots and their leadership. For his part, Mehmet Ali Talat, the Turkish Cypriot leader, congratulated Mr. Christofias and expressed hope for the start of a new era in Cyprus.

4.       On 21 March, only three weeks after Mr. Christofias’ inauguration, the two leaders met in the presence of my then Special Representative and agreed on a path towards a comprehensive settlement (see annex II). The agreement entailed the establishment of a number of working groups, to consider the core issues pertaining to an eventual settlement plan, and of technical committees, to seek immediate solutions to everyday problems arising from the division of the island. They also agreed to meet again in three months to review the work of the working groups and the technical committees and, using their results, to start full-fledged negotiations under United Nations auspices. In addition, the leaders agreed to meet as and when needed prior to the commencement of full-fledged negotiations. Moreover, they decided to open a crossing at Ledra Street in the centre of old town Nicosia, which had for many years been a symbol of the division of Cyprus.

5.       On 26 March, representatives of the leaders agreed to establish six working groups on governance and power-sharing, European Union matters, security and guarantees, territory, property and economic matters, as well as seven technical committees on crime and criminal matters, economic and commercial matters, cultural heritage, crisis management, humanitarian matters, health and the environment. Over the following month, the representatives met almost on a daily basis, in the presence of my acting Special Representative, to determine the specific issues to be covered by the groups and committees. On 14 April, they requested the United Nations by way of letters to “provide the required infrastructure and personnel support to allow the parties to carry forward the process” leading to a comprehensive settlement. On 22 April, the groups and committees began to meet. They have been coming together on a regular basis since then, as foreseen by the leaders, and facilitated by the United Nations.

6.       In late March, I dispatched the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Lynn Pascoe, to Cyprus and a week later to Greece and Turkey so as to assess the situation and to determine how the United Nations could best support the process agreed to on 21 March. In Cyprus, he met three times with Mr. Christofias and Mr. Talat. He also met with Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political party leaders and civil society representatives. In Greece and Turkey, he met with the respective Foreign Ministers and senior Foreign Ministry officials. All parties confirmed their commitment to reaching a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem under my auspices and their willingness to support and engage fully and in good faith to achieve that goal.

7.       In mid-April, the Under-Secretary-General briefed the Security Council on the outcome of his mission. The President of the Council subsequently issued a statement (S/PRST/2008/9) in which he said the Council welcomed the 21 March agreement and expressed the hope that the results of the preparatory period would build trust, momentum and a sense of common interest in the search for a just and lasting solution. The Council also supported my readiness to assist the parties in Cyprus and, should progress warrant it, the appointment of a Special Adviser after the initial preparatory phase.

8.       As agreed on 7 May (see para. 26 below), the leaders held an official meeting on 23 May, hosted by my new Special Representative, Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, who assumed his position on 13 May. Following the meeting, they issued a joint statement (see annex III) reaffirming their commitment to a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, as defined in relevant Security Council resolutions. They also said in the statement that the partnership would have a Federal Government with a single international personality, as well as a Turkish Cypriot Constituent State and a Greek Cypriot Constituent State, which would be of equal status. At the instruction of the leaders, their representatives would examine the results of the technical committees 15 days after the official meeting and consider civilian and military confidence-building measures, including Limnitis/Yesilirmak and other crossing points. The leaders also decided to meet again in the second half of June to make a new assessment.

9.       In early January, I met with the President of Turkey, Abdullah Gül, who expressed Turkey’s support for a comprehensive settlement under United Nations auspices. Also in January, I met with the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who did not anticipate any significant developments until after the February elections in the Republic of Cyprus. To both, I stressed the importance of generating an atmosphere in Cyprus conducive to the building of trust. On 13 March, on the margins of the summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, held in Dakar, I met with Mr. Talat, who opined that the Cyprus problem was entering a “new promising era” and stated that he looked forward to the meeting with the recently elected Mr. Christofias (see para. 3 above).

 

        III.   Activities of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus

 

             A.    Prevention of a recurrence of fighting and maintenance of the military status quo

 

10.     During the last reporting period, significant confidence-building measures were agreed upon with the opposing forces during the last reporting period. In December, guidelines were agreed upon with the Turkish Forces for the clearance of mines in the remaining areas attributed to their side, with the exception of a single field south of Varosha. The opening of the Ledra Street crossing was another case where UNFICYP fostered a breakthrough agreement between the sides (see para. 13 below). While minor violations along the ceasefire lines associated with ill-discipline of troops and attempts at low-level intimidation and provocation of the opposing side remained commonplace, the overall security situation remained stable. UNFICYP continues to make concerted efforts to forge closer liaison ties with the opposing forces; robust mechanisms are now in place, in all sectors, to ensure that issues which arise are resolved quickly and at the appropriate level.

11.     The total number of violations and other incidents reported during the current reporting period was 354. That figure represents a decrease of 11 from the last reporting period and a decrease of 97 from the same reporting period in 2007. Typical violations were minor in nature and had little effect on the stability of the ceasefire lines. Such violations included unauthorized attempts to improve or repair military positions, minor incursions into the buffer zone, the overmanning of observation posts and the photographing of positions of the opposing side.

12.     A number of airspace violations were reported during the reporting period. In December, a C-130 Hercules aircraft was observed over the buffer zone; the aircraft dropped two parachutists, who landed south of the National Guard ceasefire line. A National Guard Mi-35P (Hind) attack helicopter was reported, apparently on a training or familiarization task, overflying the buffer zone in January. In addition, the Turkish Forces routinely employed helicopters to resupply and rotate troops through positions in the Kokkina pocket, flying very close to the buffer zone.

13.     In order to implement the 21 March decision of the leaders and prepare for the opening of the crossing point at Ledra Street, UNFICYP liaised extensively with senior commanders of the opposing forces to agree on the military-technical terms. Following a series of meetings between UNFICYP and senior officers from the Turkish Forces, an agreement was reached on 25 March on technical terms for the clearance of mines and explosive munitions from Ledra Street, the securing of the facades of buildings along the street, which was co-funded by the European Union and carried out by the Partnership for the Future programme of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and on the running of the crossing point. On 3 April, UNFICYP conducted a major security operation to support the opening of the crossing point. The principal tasks undertaken included monitoring the withdrawal of National Guard and Turkish Forces/Turkish Cypriot Security Forces soldiers from their respective positions on either side of the crossing, escorting members of the political and diplomatic communities into the buffer zone for the opening ceremony and facilitating press coverage.

14.     Following the opening of the Ledra Street crossing point, an incident occurred in the area on the evening of 3 April that resulted in a brief closing of the crossing point. Although the situation was quickly resolved by UNFICYP and the crossing point reopened later that night, it showed that both sides need to demonstrate cooperation and restraint in the course of managing the crossing point.

15.     Since then, the crossing point has functioned without problems and is used by thousands of people from both sides on a daily basis. The highly symbolic opening has translated into an important confidence-building factor in relations between the two communities, strengthening the trust of citizens on both sides of the island that the ongoing negotiations can yield tangible results.

16.     The Turkish Forces continued to impose restrictions on the movement of UNFICYP. Measures included the continued denial of routes on the Karpas peninsula and the imposition of tight controls on access to, and the conduct of operations within, the fenced area of Varosha, as noted in my previous report. In one instance, the UNFICYP Commanding Officer of sector 4 was denied entry to Varosha to inspect troops under his command deployed in the fenced area. The United Nations continues to hold the Government of Turkey responsible for the status quo in Varosha. In an unexpected change from previous practice, controls were imposed by the Turkish Forces that restrict the use of established civilian crossing points through the buffer zone by United Nations personnel travelling in plain clothes or off-duty in United Nations marked vehicles. In another case, the Turkish Forces repeatedly protested flights by United Nations helicopters over their observation post on the Pyla plateau.

17.     The opposing forces conducted low-level training at observation posts and near the buffer zone but refrained from conducting major exercises or manoeuvres. In December, the Turkish Forces conducted training that included the firing of mortar illumination rounds and of flares in the vicinity of their ceasefire line. Both sides completed terrain briefings at observation posts to orient mobilized reservists and, as a result, substantially overmanned those positions. It is hoped that both sides will refrain in future from conducting such major exercises as previously held (Exercise Nikiforos and Exercise Toros), since such restraint would help to build further confidence.

18.     Positions established by both forces in the Dherinia area, which violate the status quo in the area, referred to in my last report and my reports of 1 December 2006 (S/2006/931) and 4 June 2007 (S/2007/328), remain unchanged. The Turkish Forces retain the checkpoint in the Laroujina pocket, referred to in my last report and my report of 23 May 2006 (S/2006/315), contrary to the standing local agreement negotiated with UNFICYP. The Turkish Forces have completed regular inspection of the liaison post at Strovilia and have repeatedly overmanned the position in violation of the military status quo in the area.

 

         B.    Demining activity in the buffer zone

 

19.     Following a protracted series of meetings that commenced in October 2006, guidelines for the clearance of 16 suspected mined areas attributed to the Turkish Forces were formally agreed upon. The Turkish Forces have yet to agree to the clearance of several additional mined areas of unknown origin, as well as the last remaining minefield attributed to the Turkish Forces, which is located in the Dherinia area, south of Varosha.

20.     Since agreement on the current guidelines was reached, the Turkish Forces have provided minefield records and maps for the 16 suspected mined areas attributed to their side. The records show 26 separate minefields within the 16 suspected areas, an increase of 67 per cent in newly reported areas since the inception of the programme. In total, the minefields contain an estimated 20,000 landmines (5,000 anti-tank mines, 15,000 anti-personnel mines and 81 booby traps), a figure that exceeds all previous estimates. Work is ongoing in those areas.

21.     The Mine Action Centre, established under the UNDP Partnership for the Future programme, is currently funded by the European Union until December 2008. Operations to be completed under the current guidelines agreed upon with the Turkish Forces are likely to extend beyond that period. Additional funding will thus be required to complete the clearance of the 26 minefields.

22.     On 28 March, a deminer suffered traumatic injuries in a mine explosion, as a result of which he lost a limb. The deminer, a national of Mozambique, was medically evacuated to Johannesburg, South Africa, for treatment and prosthesis. That tragic incident serves as a reminder of the enduring threat posed by landmines in the buffer zone.

 

             C.    Restoration of normal conditions and humanitarian functions

 

23.     Cypriots from both sides continued to seek UNFICYP facilitation on various issues. The requests for facilitation ranged from religious and educational issues, the conduct of commemorative and sociocultural events, the evacuation of patients and the transfer of the deceased, to law enforcement matters. UNFICYP continued to support intercommunal initiatives across the island and to provide humanitarian assistance to communities living on the opposite side.

24.     During the reporting period, UNFICYP recorded approximately 1 million crossings through the buffer zone. Total crossings for the month following the opening of Ledra Street exceeded the number recorded during the same period in 2007 by more than 50 per cent. That figure illustrates the significant positive impact which the opening of Ledra Street has had on contacts between the two communities. During the reporting period, goods worth approximately €662,400 crossed from the south to the north and goods worth approximately €2 million crossed in the opposite direction.

25.     Also during the reporting period, UNFICYP facilitated 77 bicommunal events, which brought together 4,117 persons from both communities. Those events were held at Ledra Palace Hotel in the buffer zone, which continues to be considered by both sides as a neutral venue where members of the two communities can jointly discuss issues of common interest.

26.     Regular monthly meetings between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political party leaders continued to be held at the Ledra Palace Hotel under the auspices of the Embassy of Slovakia. In keeping with the agreement reached on a range of bicommunal confidence-building measures, as mentioned in my last report, on 6 December 2007, with UNFICYP facilitation, political party leaders made a joint visit to the Ledra Street crossing as a gesture of support to its then prospective opening. The two community leaders joined political party leaders during a social event on 7 May 2008 for an informal exchange of views on the current situation in Cyprus.

27.     During the reporting period, UNFICYP carried out 62 humanitarian convoys and visits in support of 375 Greek Cypriots and 136 Maronites living in the northern part of the island. UNFICYP also continued to assist Turkish Cypriots in the southern part in obtaining identity documents, housing, welfare services, medical care, employment and education. The mission continued to receive with concern reports about the demolition of Greek Cypriot houses in the north, as described in my last report. That included demolitions carried out in the village of Kondemenos in Kyrenia without the consent of the Greek Cypriot owners of the properties. Since 2003, UNFICYP has received 54 requests by Greek Cypriot and Maronite internally displaced and refugee families that wish to return and permanently reside in the north. Those requests are pending owing to differences between the two sides over the criteria of eligibility for permanent returns.

28.     As mentioned in my last report, a Turkish-language primary school in Limassol is still not operational. On 26 March, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Cyprus rendered its decision on a lawsuit filed by the Cyprus Turkish Teachers’ Trade Union on the constitutional right of Turkish-speaking citizens of the Republic of Cyprus to receive education in their mother tongue. The Supreme Court, in its decision, rejected the case, arguing that the Republic of Cyprus had made adequate provisions for the education of Turkish-speaking children through the existing school system and citing the lack of interest from the Turkish-speaking community in Limassol.

29.     UNFICYP continued discussions with concerned parties on the management of civilian activities in the buffer zone, outside civil use areas, without destabilizing the status quo between the opposing forces. To that end, coordination arrangements were established with relevant authorities to address the trend of unauthorized construction, including large-scale commercial projects, with potential for tension in the buffer zone, in particular by persons from the Greek Cypriot community. During the reporting period, the mission authorized 27 projects in the buffer zone, outside the civil use area, including agricultural irrigation infrastructure, maintenance of rural roads and housing.

30.     In the mixed village of Pyla in the buffer zone, UNFICYP continued liaising with the two communities to assist in preserving good relations between them and facilitating civilian undertakings outside the civil use area. Regrettably, during the reporting period, unknown individuals repeatedly perpetrated acts of vandalism at the two Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot primary schools. On 1 April, the Greek Cypriot side violated the status quo in Pyla by simultaneously flying the national flags of Greece and the Republic of Cyprus at the Greek Cypriot Sports Club. According to arrangements monitored by UNFICYP, only one of those flags should be flown there on three designated days of the year. Similar arrangements are in place for Turkish Cypriot buildings in Pyla. UNFICYP mediated between the two communities to defuse any potential for tension. The two Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot mukhtars of the village have since met in a joint council in which they agreed, among other issues, to resolve the incidents and work together on bicommunal initiatives. On 6 December, 19 March and 9 May, primary and secondary school students from the two communities participated in sports activities in Pyla, with UNFICYP facilitation.

31.     Despite UNFICYP efforts, as described in my last report, the two sides have yet to agree on the modalities to address the issue of preservation, renovation and access to sites and icons of religious and cultural significance on both sides of the island. During the reporting period, UNFICYP facilitated four religious and commemorative events. On 1 December and on 8 March, about 50 Greek Cypriot worshipers held services at the Temple of Apostle Barnabas in the north. On 18 April, 250 Greek Cypriot students gathered at the Church of Ayios Neophytos in the buffer zone in the area of Troulli to celebrate the international day of monuments and sites. On 28 April, 200 Greek Cypriots participated in the annual pilgrimage to the Varisha Church in the buffer zone, west Nicosia. On 1 May, over 250 Greek Cypriots attended prayers at the Church of Ayios Georgios Soleas in the buffer zone.

32.     UNFICYP continued to liaise between the two sides on law enforcement and issues related to crossings through the buffer zone. Since my last report, the mission facilitated 29 medical evacuations and the transfer of the remains of 5 Greek Cypriots to the north for burial in their villages, in the Karpas area in the north. Regular prison visits and interviews with inmates and relevant officials continued. There are currently seven Turkish Cypriots detained in the south and two Greek Cypriots detained in the north.

33.     Further to my last report, in which I provided information about the escape of two prisoners from Nicosia Central Prison, the refusal of the authorities in the north to return the Turkish Cypriot fugitive remains a contentious matter. UNFICYP is preparing a draft protocol to deal with such incidents in future.

34.     UNFICYP continued to develop working relations with police forces on both sides of the buffer zone. Its relations with the Cyprus police have been positive and constructive. By sharing their operational information with UNFICYP, the Cyprus police have taken a step towards developing cooperation in fighting crime on the island. Relations between United Nations police and the Turkish Cypriot police were developing at a slower pace. Despite efforts by UNFICYP, the Turkish Cypriot side was often reluctant to enter into direct cooperation with United Nations police.

35.     The extensive illegal dumping of waste in the buffer zone continues to cause environmental and ecological damage. On a daily basis, UNFICYP patrols have encountered individuals illegally dumping waste material. At the initiative of the mission, a survey of illegal dump sites in the buffer zone, some of which contain asbestos and other toxic waste, was conducted in April. That first survey is a significant step towards removing waste from the numerous extensive dump sites in the zone.

 

     IV.   Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus

 

36.     During the reporting period, the Committee on Missing Persons pursued its bicommunal project on the exhumation, identification and return of the remains of missing persons. To date, the remains of nearly 400 individuals have been exhumed on both sides of the buffer zone by teams made up of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot scientists. In January, following 18 months of training, the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team handed over full operational responsibility for exhumations to the Cypriot scientists. The remains of over 265 individuals have undergone examination at the Committee’s bicommunal anthropological laboratory in the United Nations Protected Area in Nicosia. Following DNA genetic analysis, 91 families received the remains of their identified missing relatives.

37.     The Committee on Missing Persons continued to benefit from broad political and public support. However, I urge all parties concerned to take every possible action in order to speed up the exhumation process.

 

          V.   Financial and administrative aspects

 

38.     As indicated in my last report, the General Assembly, by its resolution 61/280, appropriated the amount of $46.6 million gross for the maintenance of UNFICYP for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, inclusive of the voluntary contribution of one third of the cost of the Force, equivalent to $15.5 million, from the Government of Cyprus and the voluntary contribution of $6.5 million from the Government of Greece. I invite other countries and organizations to do likewise, with a view to reducing the portion of the cost of UNFICYP covered by assessed contributions.

39.     My proposed budget for the maintenance of UNFICYP for the period from 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009, which amounts to some $54.9 million, is currently under consideration by the General Assembly during the second part of its resumed sixty-second session. Should the Security Council decide to extend the mandate of the Force beyond 15 June 2008, as indicated in paragraph 50 below, the cost of the maintenance of the Force would be limited to the amount approved by the Assembly.

40.     As at 31 March 2008, the total outstanding assessed contributions to the special account for UNFICYP for the period from 16 June 1993 to 15 June 2008 amounted to $19.1 million. The total outstanding assessed contributions for all peacekeeping operations as at the same date amounted to $1,625,200.

41.     As at 31 March 2008, amounts owed to troop contributors totalled $20.3 million. As a result of the delay in the receipt of assessed contributions, reimbursements for troop- and contingent-owned equipment costs have only been made for the period up to 30 September 2006 and 31 March 2006, respectively.

 

   VI.   Observations

 

42.     During the reporting period, the situation in Cyprus remained calm and stable, with no major incidents along the ceasefire lines. Both opposing forces generally cooperated well and maintained good working relations with UNFICYP. Improved cooperation in certain areas between UNFICYP and authorities on both sides resulted in better control of civilian activities in the buffer zone, although both sides have yet to formally accept the 1989 aide-memoire used by the United Nations to regulate activities in the area. With the political process delicately poised, I appeal to both sides to continue to refrain from acts which could lead to instability in the buffer zone.

43.     A window of opportunity for Cypriots to finally resolve the Cyprus problem is clearly open. It is particularly heartening that over the past months, the two leaders have already taken decisive steps towards their shared objective of resuming negotiations aimed at a comprehensive settlement. What is especially encouraging is that the leaders reconfirmed, at their meeting on 23 May, the broad outline of a solution, based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, as defined by the Security Council in its relevant resolutions, and a partnership comprising a Federal Government with a single international personality, as well as a Turkish Cypriot Constituent State and a Greek Cypriot Constituent State, with equal status. The agreement of 21 March, the subsequent active engagement in substance, and the joint statement of 23 May are clear indicators of the renewed political will to seek a solution to the Cyprus problem. I am gratified to see both leaders, whose vision and commitment I commend, taking ownership of, and full responsibility for, the process.

44.     I wish to strongly encourage the parties to build on the present momentum and continue using the current preparatory period to identify to the greatest extent possible areas of convergence as well as disagreement, while preparing options, where feasible, on the more sensitive elements for the two leaders to consider once formal negotiations begin. In the light of further momentum created by the leaders on 23 May, the working groups and the technical committees may wish to increase the pace of their meetings, not least because their results will be examined by the leaders’ representatives in early June. It is my hope that the parties will record substantive results during that phase for the leaders to use to start full-fledged negotiations. In that regard, the planned meeting between the leaders in the second half of June may prove to be pivotal. I am firmly committed to helping them move forward to the formal talks as expeditiously and smoothly as possible, and intend to appoint a Special Adviser at the appropriate time. I will keep the Council informed of further developments and progress in that regard.

45.     The establishment of economic, social, cultural, sporting or similar ties and contacts will help ease the sense of isolation felt by the Turkish Cypriot community and benefit all Cypriots by helping to build trust. It will also impact positively on the ongoing efforts. As I stated in my last report, the reunification of the island is more likely to occur, and in as seamless a manner as possible, if greater economic and social parity between the sides is achieved expeditiously.

46.     The coming period will not be easy and may require major compromises. It is therefore important for all parties to foster an environment that is conducive to moving the process forward. A flourishing and engaged civil society and an informed citizenry are important elements in that endeavour. Those elements will help Cypriots understand what they will be called to agree upon, so that any future settlement will be sustainable. I encourage the sides to find the best means to facilitate the active involvement of Cypriot civil society in the debate on the future of their country.

47.     The establishment of the crossing at Ledra Street is emblematic of what can be achieved with the requisite political will. As per the joint statement of 23 May, the representatives of the leaders will consider other civilian and military confidence‑building measures, including the opening of the Limnitis/Yesilirmak and additional crossing points. The implementation of those and other confidence‑building measures, aimed at improving the daily lives of Cypriots, would be welcome.

48.     I note with satisfaction the resumption of the mine clearance process, which I hope will eventually lead to the complete demining of the buffer zone. At the same time, I regret the accident involving a United Nations deminer from Mozambique — a reminder to the two communities of the dangers in the buffer zone and the need to cooperate with UNFICYP in that important area.

49.     I am gratified that the Committee on Missing Persons continues its humanitarian work unhindered and in a depoliticized manner. I am confident that an atmosphere of restraint and respect can allow that important bicommunal activity to contribute to greater understanding and reconciliation between the communities.

50.     In the light of the foregoing, in the absence of a comprehensive settlement, notwithstanding improved prospects in recent months owing to the commitment of the parties concerned, I believe that UNFICYP continues to play a vital role on the island. I therefore recommend that the Security Council extend the mandate of UNFICYP by a further period of six months, until 15 December 2008.

51.     In conclusion, I would like to express my appreciation to Michael Møller for his dedicated service for over two years as my Special Representative and Chief of Mission, whose efforts to rebuild trust and dialogue between the two sides ensured that it was possible to move forward once the conditions were suitable; and to Major General Rafael Barni for his command of the Force. I also extend my appreciation to Elizabeth Spehar, who acted as my Special Representative in April 2008, to Tayé‑Brook Zerihoun, my new Special Representative and Chief of Mission, and Rear Admiral Mario Sanchez Debernardi, my new Force Commander, and to the men and women serving in UNFICYP, for the efficiency and commitment with which they have discharged the responsibilities entrusted to them by the Security Council.

 

Annex I

                 Countries providing military and civilian police personnel (as at 16 May 2008)

 

 

Country

Military personnel

Argentina*

291

Austria

5

Canada

1

Hungary

84

Slovakia**

200

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

272

      Total

853

 

 

Country

United Nations police

Argentina

4

Australia

15

Bosnia and Herzegovina

2

Croatia

4

El Salvador

7

India

7

Ireland

19

Italy

4

Netherlands

7

      Total

69

 

*  The Argentine contingent includes soldiers from Brazil (1), Chile (14) and Paraguay (14).

**  The Slovakian contingent includes soldiers from Croatia (4).

 

Annex II

 

                 Statement of the two leaders read by Michael Møller, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Chief of Mission of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus following the meeting on 21 March 2008

 

I am very pleased to announce the following on behalf of the two leaders.

The leaders met today in a very positive and cordial atmosphere and exchanged views on a number of issues, achieving a great degree of convergence. They have decided to ask their respective advisers to meet this coming week in order to set up a number of working groups and technical committees, and establish their agendas, and to do so in the most expeditious way possible.

In taking full responsibility for the conduct of future negotiations, the leaders have also agreed to meet three months from now to review the work of the working groups and technical committees, and using their results, to start full-fledged negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The leaders have also agreed to meet as and when needed prior to the commencement of their formal negotiations.

The leaders have also agreed that Ledra Street will, as soon as technically possible, open and function in accordance with the established practices at other crossings.

The issue of the opening of the Limnitis crossing and other crossings is also on the agenda for the coming meetings of their advisers.

 

Annex III

 

                 Joint statement made by Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat on 23 May 2008

 

The leaders today had genuine and fruitful discussions, and reviewed the results achieved pursuant to the 21 March agreement.

They reaffirmed their commitment to a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, as defined by relevant Security Council resolutions. This partnership will have a Federal Government with a single international personality, as well as a Turkish Cypriot Constituent State and a Greek Cypriot Constituent State, which will be of equal status.

They instructed their representatives to examine, within 15 days, the results of the technical committees.

The representatives will consider civilian and military confidence-building measures. They will also pursue the opening of Limnitis/Yesilirmak and other crossing points.

The leaders decided to come together again in the second half of June to make a new assessment.

 

 

S/2007/699/Corr.1 – Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations operation in Cyprus

United Nations

S/2007/699/Corr.1

  Security Council Distr.: General

7 December 2007

Original: English

 


REPORT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON THE UNITED NATIONS
OPERATION IN CYPRUS

Corrigendum

                 Annex

                       Countries providing military and civilian police personnel (as at 15 November 2007)

 

The first footnote should read

* The Argentinean contingent includes soldiers from Chile (15), Paraguay (14)
and Brazil (1).

 

—————————————————————-

S/2007/699 – Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations operation in Cyprus

United Nations

S/2007/699

  Security Council Distr.: General

3 December 2007

Original: English

 


REPORT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON THE UNITED NATIONS
OPERATION IN CYPRUS

I. Introduction

 

1.       The present report on the United Nations operation in Cyprus covers developments from 26 May to 15 November 2007 and brings up to date the record of activities carried out by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) pursuant to Security Council resolution 186 (1964) and subsequent Council resolutions, most recently resolution 1758 (2007).

2.       As at 15 November 2007, the strength of the military component stood at 856 all ranks, and the strength of the police component stood at 66 (see annex).

 

          II.   Mission of good offices and other developments

 

3.       Since my previous report, my Special Representative has continued efforts aimed at facilitating the implementation of the 8 July agreement (see S/2006/572) through discussions with the two leaders and their representatives. Towards that end, the Coordination Committee, comprising the advisers of the two leaders and my Special Representative, convened six more times over the summer, and my Special Representative held numerous bilateral meetings with each side. The meetings were aimed at agreeing on the modalities for the implementation of the agreement between the leaders, in line with the procedural clarifications outlined in November 2006 also agreed to by the leaders. On 5 July, the Greek Cypriot leader, Tassos Papadopoulos, requested a meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, echoing the latter’s long-standing position that the leaders should meet directly.

4.       On the occasion of the anniversary of the 8 July agreement, I urged the two leaders to show the necessary creativity and political courage to move from talks about procedures to real engagement on substance. I reiterated the same message to Mr. Talat in a telephone call on 13 July and to Mr. Papadopoulos in a letter dated 8 August. The leaders subsequently met on 5 September in the presence of my Special Representative. While the positions of the parties appear to be within the agreed 8 July framework, no agreement was reached on the start of the process.

5.       I met with the leaders in New York — Mr. Papadopoulos on 23 September and Mr. Talat on 16 October. Expressing concern at the lack of progress, I urged both to move the process forward. Mr. Papadopoulos presented to me a number of proposals concerning the 8 July process and confidence-building measures. He also proposed the establishment of a civil society consultative body in support of the negotiations process. Mr. Talat presented a set of proposals (see A/62/499-S/2007/625) on confidence-building measures, including the establishment of a reconciliation commission. Mr. Talat also called for the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots to be lifted and stated that the Ledra Street crossing should be opened without preconditions. In mid-October, Mr. Papadopoulos submitted to me a revised proposal. Since then, the main differences between the parties have centred on questions concerning preparations for negotiations and the need for a time frame.

6.       On 22 September, I met with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, Dora Bakoyannis, in New York and expressed my hope that the dialogue between the sides would continue. She reiterated her belief that Mr. Papadopoulos was ready to implement the 8 July agreement.

7.       On 29 September, I met with the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in New York. I expressed my disappointment at the fact that the meeting on 5 September of the leaders had not resulted in any progress. The Prime Minister agreed. He reiterated that it was important for the Security Council to endorse my predecessor’s report of 28 May 2004 (S/2004/437) and for the international community to lift the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots. I asked the Prime Minister for his support in facilitating the symbolically important opening of Ledra Street. He agreed on the importance of the matter.

8.       In the light of various proposals made by the two sides, my Special Representative held a series of meetings with the leaders and their aides with a view to addressing the concerns of both sides, and encouraged them to flexibly engage, particularly with regard to confidence-building measures. Both sides proposed further openings across the buffer zone, including Ledra Street; a pull-back of military personnel from sensitive areas, particularly in Nicosia; and the cessation of military exercises near the buffer zone. In contrast to these positive signals, however, mutual recriminations continued to be exchanged throughout the reporting period, undermining trust between the communities.

9.       On 18 September, the European Commission published its annual report for 2006-2007 on the implementation of a €259 million aid package for the Turkish Cypriot community. The aid is aimed at helping to reduce the socio-economic disparities between the two communities and is thus an important component of European Union efforts towards the lifting of the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots. The Commission’s report concluded that the implementation process faced challenges, most notably with regard to works for upgrading Greek Cypriot property, a low absorption capacity by the Turkish Cypriot administration and the propensity of both communities to block projects for political reasons.

 

        III.   Operations of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force
in Cyprus

 

             A.    Prevention of a recurrence of fighting and maintenance of the military status quo

 

10.     The security situation in the buffer zone remained stable. A total of 365 violations and other incidents were reported during this period. This represents a decrease of 108 violations compared with the last reporting period. The pattern of violations broadly reflects those reported previously, including the completion of unauthorized repairs and minor enhancements to, and overmanning of, military positions along both ceasefire lines; minor air incursions into the buffer zone; photographing of the opposing side’s positions; the completion of ground orientations by incoming troops at observation posts; limited incursions by the ground forces of each side into the buffer zone; and, most significantly, restrictions on United Nations movement at access points to the buffer zone.

11.     Incidents reflecting a lack of discipline on the part of junior soldiers posted in observation posts along both ceasefire lines, as observed in the previous reporting period and noted in my previous report (S/2007/328), remain of concern. These have included incidents in which weapons were cocked and pointed at the opposing side. The majority of incidents have continued to occur where the opposing forces are in close proximity, in the old city of Nicosia. In this context, I welcome the proposals made by both sides for the pull-back of military personnel from sensitive areas, particularly in Nicosia.

12.     UNFICYP maintained a close working relationship with the two opposing forces. As requested by the Security Council in its resolution 1758 (2007) of 15 June 2007, UNFICYP engaged with both sides in discussions on the 1989 aide-memoire with the aim of reaching an early agreement on its wording.

13.     The situation in the area of Ledra Street remains delicate, as throughout the reporting period the Turkish Forces made attempts to exert control over an area of the buffer zone in the vicinity of the proposed new crossing point. In May 2007, the Turkish Forces moved south of their ceasefire line into the buffer zone in the area and cleared a section of Ledra Street. Subsequent Turkish Forces incursions into Ledra Street and the contentious “four-minute walk” area of the old city of Nicosia to the east of Ledra Street were reported by UNFICYP patrols. Tensions between the opposing forces in the area rose further throughout June 2007, during which time a section of the screen erected by the National Guard following the destruction of the wall that formerly blocked Ledra Street was broken. The National Guard alleged that this damage was inflicted by a projectile thrown by a Turkish soldier who had entered the buffer zone; UNFICYP was unable to confirm that claim. Turkish Forces subsequently installed a video surveillance camera on their ceasefire line overlooking Ledra Street. UNFICYP, which is still negotiating on this issue with the Turkish Forces, protested about this action. UNFICYP continues to vigorously engage with both opposing forces to facilitate the opening of a crossing point at Ledra Street.

14.     In the early summer, several areas of the buffer zone were affected by a number of serious fires. While all were effectively extinguished by UNFICYP with the assistance of the fire services of both communities, the proximity of the fires to the ceasefire lines and to mined areas threatened to escalate tensions between the opposing forces. The most serious of the fires occurred in an area north-west of Athienou, close to the Turkish Forces ceasefire line, and engulfed a mined area attributed to the Turkish Forces, causing some of the mines to detonate. Following that incident, UNFICYP and the Turkish Forces reached an agreement on the marking of a “safety zone” around mined areas and on the clearer marking of the perimeters of minefields.

15.     In spite of the call to exercise restraint expressed in my previous report, both sides conducted military exercises. In June 2007, the Turkish Forces completed a naval exercise, code-named “Exercise Seawolf 2007”, in international waters north of Cyprus. The National Guard held “Exercise Demeter”, a logistics support exercise, in July 2007. In October 2007, the National Guard completed “Exercise Nikiforos”, which included the mobilization of a larger number of reservists and was conducted on a larger scale than had been observed previously. Throughout the five-day exercise period, UNFICYP noted increased military road and air traffic on routes south of the buffer zone. In response, the Turkish Forces conducted “Exercise Toros” in November 2007, which was similar to the exercise carried out in 2006. In this context, I welcome the proposals made to me by both leaders for the cessation of military exercises near the buffer zone.

16.     Turkish Forces continue to violate the status quo in Strovilia, where they have consistently overmanned their liaison post and have imposed constraints on UNFICYP movement in the area. Those restrictions have extended to denying UNFICYP access to its liaison post. UNFICYP access to and operations within the walled area of Varosha remain severely limited by the Turkish Forces. The United Nations continues to hold the Government of Turkey responsible for the status quo in Varosha. Tight restrictions applied by the Turkish Cypriot side on United Nations movement in certain parts of the Karpas peninsula continue to hamper humanitarian and monitoring operations in the area. Both sides retain observation posts, referred to in my previous reports (S/2006/931, paras. 14 and 15, and S/2007/328, paras. 13, 18 and 19), in violation of the status quo in the Dherinia area. The checkpoint in the Laroujina pocket, referred to in my report of May 2006 (S/2006/315, para. 13), was enhanced and was occupied on an irregular basis by the Turkish Forces in violation of the standing local agreement. UNFICYP continues to protest about this and to demand the removal of the position.

 

             B.    Mine clearance

 

17.     Between January and July 2007, the Mine Action Centre retained a single team in the country and operated at a reduced capacity owing to Mr. Talat’s reservations concerning the European Union funding source for the project. On 13 August 2007, following the resolution of the funding disagreement, limited mine-clearance operations recommenced in mined areas not attributed to either side. Since then, the Centre has cleared a number of minefields of unknown origin, bringing the area of land released to a total of 415,566 square metres for the period under review. Discussions continue on clearance of the remaining minefields of unknown origin.

18.     Negotiations between UNFICYP and the Turkish Forces to renew protocol terms for the clearance of the remaining mined areas in the buffer zone attributed to the Turkish Forces resumed on 22 August 2007. So far, the Turkish Forces have agreed in principle to the clearance of non-contentious mined areas attributed to them and the clearance of further mined areas which lie in the buffer zone close to their ceasefire line. UNFICYP continues to actively engage the Turkish Forces to finalize the protocol agreement. Once that agreement has been reached, the Centre will mobilize three more mine-action teams.

 

         C.    Restoration of normal conditions and humanitarian functions

 

19.     UNFICYP, in cooperation with international partners and local stakeholders, continued to support confidence-building activities aimed at fostering interaction between the two communities across the buffer zone.

20.     During the reporting period, UNFICYP recorded 700,000 persons from both sides crossing through the buffer zone, while goods worth approximately 832,000 Cyprus pounds (approximately $1.7 million) crossed from the northern to the southern part and goods worth approximately £C 178,000 (approximately $356,000) crossed in the opposite direction.

21.     As part of its overall efforts to establish trust among Cypriots, UNFICYP continued discussions aimed at facilitating agreement on the opening of the Ledra Street crossing point. In their respective proposals for confidence-building measures addressed to me, Mr. Papadopoulos and Mr. Talat attached priority to the opening of that crossing point. The proposals also presented the respective approaches of the two leaders on the opening of Kato Pyrgos-Yesilirmak (Limnitis) in the north-western area of Cyprus. In preparation for the opening of this prospective crossing point, the Greek Cypriot side completed the construction work to the west of the National Guard ceasefire line outside of the buffer zone, while the Turkish Cypriot side conveyed to UNFICYP that it would consider this crossing only after the opening of the Ledra Street crossing.

22.     During the reporting period, UNFICYP facilitated 55 bicommunal events in which 2,680 people from both sides participated. Those events were held at the Ledra Palace Hotel in the buffer zone, which continues to be seen by both sides as an essential, neutral venue for hosting activities involving the two communities.

23.     Regular monthly meetings between Greek and Turkish Cypriot political party leaders continue to be held at the Ledra Palace Hotel under the auspices of the Embassy of Slovakia. As a result of the agreement reached on a range of bicommunal confidence-building measures, as mentioned in my previous report, party leaders played one football match and made joint visits to the Hala Sultan Tekke in the south and the church of Saint Barnabas in the north. Party leaders from both sides confirmed that such bicommunal activities would continue and that they believed it was a positive step towards bringing the two communities closer together and an expression of their respect for religious and cultural sites in Cyprus. On 14 November, political party leaders issued a joint communiqué calling upon Mr. Papadopoulos and Mr. Talat to take decisive action towards opening the Ledra Street crossing. To that end, they expressed their wish to visit this area of the buffer zone. UNFICYP has offered its full assistance in facilitating this positive initiative.

24.     During the reporting period, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), through its “Action for Cooperation and Trust” (ACT) peacebuilding initiative, organized more than 100 bicommunal activities which brought together 7,500 Cypriots from all communities. Currently, UNDP-ACT funds 120 peacebuilding projects, which involve the participation of 135 Cypriot organizations and groups from both communities. In November, one of those projects, the Emergency Disease Forum, was used by Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot experts to organize a bicommunal meeting on the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. At the same time, the UNDP programme “Partnership for the Future”, through which funding is channelled to the Committee on Missing Persons and to demining activities, focused on infrastructure and rehabilitation projects and private-sector development.

25.     Since my previous report, UNFICYP has conducted 62 humanitarian convoys and visits in support of the 384 Greek Cypriots and 142 Maronites living in the northern part of the island. UNFICYP has also continued to assist Turkish Cypriots in the southern part in obtaining identity documents, housing, welfare services, medical care, employment and education. UNFICYP continues to receive with concern reports about the demolition of Greek Cypriot houses in the Karpas, including residences of persons who had indicated their desire to return to the north. In this connection, UNFICYP has repeatedly reminded the Turkish Cypriot side of the need to respect ownership rights, including in cases where properties remain unoccupied.

26.     The Turkish-language primary school in Limassol is still not operational. The formal proceedings of a lawsuit filed by the Cyprus Turkish Teachers’ Trade Union in the Supreme Court of the Republic of Cyprus to guarantee Turkish Cypriots the right to an education in their mother tongue is ongoing and was last adjourned on 12 October. No date has been set for the trial yet. In the meantime, more than 60 Turkish-speaking children in Limassol attend the existing Greek Cypriot school, which provides Turkish-language instruction.

27.     Management of civilian activities in the buffer zone outside the civil-use areas continues to be one of the main challenges facing UNFICYP. The mission is concerned at the steady increase in requests for civilian activities in the buffer zone outside of designated civil-use areas, particularly at proposals for large-scale commercial projects. If not addressed, that trend and the magnitude of civilian undertakings in the buffer zone, given the presence of the two armed opposing forces, will not only be unsustainable, but also undermine the mandate of UNFICYP to preserve the integrity of the buffer zone, potentially leading to a negative impact on security.

28.     UNFICYP authorizes civilian activities in the buffer zone whenever it determines that such projects would not raise tension between the opposing forces or interfere with the Mission’s operational requirements. During the reporting period, UNFICYP approved 12 such projects, including the construction of a water reservoir for irrigation and the drilling of a public borehole in the area of Peristerona/Cengizkoy. UNFICYP believes that it is in the interest of all concerned parties to adhere to its established procedures for civilian activities in the buffer zone, and continues to call on both sides to provide support in this regard. UNFICYP received a legal opinion from the European Commission affirming that the European Union is obliged to respect the mandate of UNFICYP established by a resolution of the Security Council before the accession of Cyprus to the European Union. The European Commission stated that the authority of UNFICYP in the buffer zone allowed it to prohibit civilian activities in case of security concerns and that the acquis communautaire should not be allowed to challenge the mandate and authority of UNFICYP.

29.     In the mixed village of Pyla in the buffer zone, UNFICYP continued working with the two communities, including on issues related to civilian activities in the buffer zone outside of the designated civil-use area. On 18 August, tensions arose due to an electricity connection by Kibris Turk Elektrik Kurumu from the Electricity Authority of Cyprus network to a network on the Pyla plateau. UNFICYP is continuing to mediate the resolution of this problem between the two sides.

30.     UNFICYP continues to face difficulties in mediating on issues involving religious sites and buildings, despite continued appeals to the two communities to agree on practical modalities to address such matters. Following the meeting between H.E. Chrysostomos II, Archbishop of Nova Justina and All Cyprus, and Ahmet Yönlüer, the head of religious affairs in the north, as reported in my previous report (S/2007/328, para. 32), my Special Representative engaged with the two sides to establish lists of sites of religious significance to the other community which are in need of repair and restoration. Regrettably, these efforts have thus far failed to yield concrete results.

31.     During the reporting period, UNFICYP facilitated six religious and commemorative events in the buffer zone and on both sides of the island. On 17 July, more than 1,000 Greek Cypriots prayed in the Ayia Marina Church in the area of Dherynia, and on 27 September 130 Greek Cypriots attended prayer services at the newly renovated Church of Ayios Neophyos, in the village of Troulli. In the northern part, on 22 July, 200 Maronites attended services at the Prophet Elias Monastery. On 1 and 2 September, about 300 Greek Cypriots travelled to Morphou to pray at the Church of Saint Mamas, and on 8 September, for the first time since the 1974 events, approximately 500 Greek Cypriot worshippers gathered for religious services at the Church of Agios Georgios and the Chapel of Panagia ton Pervolion. On 6 October, 50 Greek Cypriots performed a mass at the Apostolos Barnabas Monastery, and on 8 August, 650 Turkish Cypriots travelling through the southern part, visited Kokkina/Erenkoy as part of an annual commemorative event.

32.     UNFICYP continued to liaise with the two sides on criminal matters and issues related to the crossings between the two parts of the island. Twenty-one medical evacuations were facilitated from the north and the remains of two Greek Cypriots returned for burial in their village in the Karpas area, in the north. Prison visits and interviews with inmates and relevant officials continue. There are currently 20 Turkish Cypriots detained in the south and 2 Greek Cypriots detained in the north. However, on the whole, despite the best efforts of UNFICYP, no further progress has been achieved in establishing closer cooperation on law enforcement matters.

33.     UNFICYP has improved cooperation with local authorities to combat activities such as illegal hunting and rubbish-dumping in the buffer zone, which represent a direct challenge to its authority. The mission welcomes the recent legislation prohibiting illegal dumping, as well as the creation of a Cyprus police Hunting Task Force, which now works in close cooperation with UNFICYP police to curb illegal hunting and bird-trapping. I hope that this cooperation will help prevent incidents such as the one that occurred on 14 November, during which hunters fired at a target some 5 metres away from an UNFICYP patrol which was attempting to remove the hunters from the buffer zone.

34.     UNFICYP continued to encourage contact between the two communities on gender-related issues. Discussions were held with the newly appointed Gender Adviser of the Turkish Cypriot leader and with Greek Cypriot individuals dealing with gender issues. My Special Representative continued contacts with the bicommunal, high-level Women’s Policy Group to discuss cooperation between the two communities.

 

         IV.   Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus

 

35.     During the reporting period, the Committee pursued its bicommunal project on the exhumation, identification and return of the remains of missing persons. To date, the remains of more than 350 individuals have been exhumed on both sides of the buffer zone by teams composed of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot scientists. The remains of over 250 have undergone examination at the Committee’s bicommunal anthropological laboratory in the United Nations Protected Area in Nicosia. During July and August, following genetic analysis, the first sets of identifications were concluded. As a result, 57 families received the remains of their missing relatives.

36.     The Committee continued to benefit from broad political and public support. I commend both communities for showing the necessary respect in relation to the return of the first sets of remains — a significant and sensitive moment for both communities. I encourage all concerned to build on this momentum towards the final resolution so as to put closure to this painful issue.

 

   V.   Financial and administrative aspects

 

37.     The General Assembly, in its resolution 61/280 of 29 June 2007, appropriated for the maintenance of UNFICYP for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008 the amount of $46.6 million gross ($44.6 million net). In this regard, I am grateful for the voluntary contribution of one third of the cost of the Force, equivalent to $15.5 million, by the Government of Cyprus, and the voluntary contribution of $6.5 million by the Government of Greece. I invite other countries and organizations to do likewise, with a view to reducing the portion of the cost of UNFICYP covered by assessed contributions.

38.     Should the Security Council decide to extend the mandate of UNFICYP for a further period of six months, the cost of maintaining the Force would be limited to the amount approved by the General Assembly.

39.     As at 31 August 2007, the total outstanding assessed contributions to the special account for UNFICYP for the period from 16 June 1993 to 15 December 2007 amounted to $22.2 million. The total outstanding assessed contributions for all peacekeeping operations as at the same date amounted to $2,479.9 million.

40.     Reimbursement of troop- and contingent-owned equipment costs has been made only for the periods up to 30 September 2006 and 31 July 2006, respectively, owing to the delay in the receipt of assessed contributions.

 

   VI.   Observations

 

41.     During the previous reporting period, the situation along the ceasefire lines has remained calm and stable. The opposing forces extended their 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 and of the mission’s mandate. In this connection, UNFICYP will continue to support civilian activities in the buffer zone in full respect of ownership rights. However, such activities will not be allowed at the expense of stability and security, for which the United Nations bears direct responsibility. I call on the members of both communities to respect the mandate of UNFICYP to maintain peace and security in that area. In this context, I welcome the European Commission’s legal opinion which supports this position. I reiterate my belief that the situation would further improve 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. It is my hope that both sides will accept it without delay.

42.     Over the last six months, there has been no progress on the implementation of the agreement of 8 July 2006, although both parties continue to publicly support the principles contained therein, namely, that a comprehensive settlement will be based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation and political equality.

43.     The broad outline of a solution is well known and will be based on the considerable body of work and basic agreements on established parameters already worked on over the past decades, on which either side may, indeed should, draw in the search for a future settlement. The 8 July agreement and subsequent agreed procedural clarifications are aimed at facilitating direct talks, not blocking them. Given these realities, it is difficult not to conclude that an important obstacle to progress is currently a lack of political will to fully engage. All parties need to show greater flexibility and greater political courage. It is disappointing that the meeting of the leaders held on 5 September did not produce concrete results and was a lost opportunity for all Cypriots.

44.     I welcome, however, the various proposals made by both leaders containing confidence-building measures. Their early implementation would greatly contribute to an improvement in the atmosphere on the island. I would also urge both parties to put an end to mutual recriminations, as agreed between the two leaders on 8 July 2006, so as to ensure that the right atmosphere prevails.

45.     As I mentioned in my previous report, it is my firm belief that the responsibility of finding a solution lies with the Cypriots themselves. The coming year may prove to be crucial in the search for a comprehensive settlement. Only the required political will, translated into concrete actions, will provide an opportunity for progress and possible new initiatives.

46.     An active and flourishing civil society is an important element in the process of overcoming a culture of prejudice and is essential to the political process. All Cypriots should be encouraged to become more active in that regard. The proposals made by the two leaders on the roles that could be played by civil society should also be taken into account.

47.     It is regrettable that the ongoing debate on the lifting of the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots has become a debate on recognition. Recognition, or assisting secession, would be contrary to the resolutions of the Security Council. Rather, the objective should be to engender greater economic and social parity between the sides by further promoting the development of the Turkish Cypriot community, so that the reunification of the island may occur in as seamless a manner as possible. The maintenance of economic, social, cultural, sporting or similar ties or contacts does not amount to recognition. On the contrary, it will benefit all Cypriots by building trust, creating a more even playing field and thus greatly contributing to the reunification of the island. It is therefore important for all actors concerned to reframe the debate and their actions with a view to achieving this crucial objective in conformity with Security Council resolutions.

48.     I note with satisfaction that the Turkish Cypriot side overcame concerns regarding European Union funding for a mine-free buffer zone. Notwithstanding that positive development, it is disappointing that discussions on the protocol governing the mine clearance that remains to be done are not proceeding as quickly as envisaged. I would therefore urge that this issue be resolved as soon as possible in order to operationalize the Turkish Cypriot and Turkish commitment to the complete demining of the buffer zone.

49.     I am gratified that the Committee on Missing Persons has maintained its momentum and is advancing towards the resolution of one of the most painful aspects of the Cyprus problem. The success of this bicommunal endeavour will depend on the continued and welcomed respect and restraint shown by both communities, which has allowed efforts in the context of this humanitarian issue to proceed in a depoliticized manner. I hope that the progress achieved can contribute towards a closer understanding between the two communities.

50.     It is important for all involved in the Cyprus issue to work to foster an atmosphere conducive to efforts aimed at reaching a comprehensive settlement. In this regard, I am grateful for the support of Security Council members and of others concerned for our collective efforts both in New York and on the island.

51.     In view of the above, and in the absence of a comprehensive settlement, I believe that UNFICYP continues to play a vital role on the island. I therefore recommend that the Security Council extend the mandate of UNFICYP by a further period of six months, until 15 June 2008.

52.     In conclusion, I would like to express my gratitude to my Special Representative and Head of Mission, Michael Møller, to the Force Commander, Major General Rafael Barni, and to the men and women serving in UNFICYP for the efficiency and dedication with which they have discharged the responsibilities entrusted to them by the Security Council.


Annex

                 Countries providing military and civilian police personnel (as at 15 November 2007)

 

 

Country Military personnel
Argentina* 294
Austria 5
Canada 1
Hungary 84
Slovakia** 200
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 272
      Total 856

 

 

  United Nations police
Argentina 4
Australia 15
Bosnia 5
Croatia 4
El Salvador 7
India 1
Italy 4
Ireland 18
Netherlands 8
      Total 66

 

*  The Argentinian contingent includes soldiers from Chile (15), Paraguay (14) and Peru (14).

**  The Slovakian contingent includes soldiers from Croatia (4).

 

 —————————————————————-

 

S/2007/328 – Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations operation in Cyprus

United Nations

S/2007/328

  Security Council Distr.: General

4 June 2007

Original: English

 


REPORT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON THE UNITED NATIONS
OPERATION IN CYPRUS

I. Introduction

 

1.       The present report on the United Nations operation in Cyprus covers developments from 25 November 2006 to 25 May 2007, and brings up to date the record of activities carried out by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) pursuant to Security Council resolution 186 (1964) and subsequent Council resolutions, the most recent being resolution 1728 (2006).

2.       As at 30 April 2007, the strength of the military component stood at 856 all ranks and the strength of the police component stood at 64 (see annex).

 

     II.   Mission of good offices and other developments

 

3.       On 15 December, the Security Council adopted resolution 1728 (2006), by which, inter alia, it expressed full support for the process agreed upon by the Greek Cypriot leader, Tassos Papadopoulos, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, on 8 July 2006, and encouraged active participation in bicommunal discussions as described in the letter dated 15 November 2006 from the then Under‑Secretary-General Ibrahim Gambari, to which both leaders had responded positively, under the auspices of my Special Representative. The Security Council called for the early completion of the preparatory phase so that a fully fledged good offices process might resume as soon as possible. At the same time, the Council regretted the continued lack of trust between the parties, which had prevented the implementation of the 8 July agreement.

4.       Over the past six months, my Special Representative has continued efforts aimed at facilitating the implementation of the 8 July agreement (see S/2006/572) through intensive discussions with the two leaders and their representatives. Thus far, 14 meetings of the Coordination Committee, comprising the advisers of the two leaders and my Special Representative, have been convened, in addition to a number of bilateral meetings between the Special Representative and each side. The main objective of the Coordination Committee has been to agree on the modalities for the launching of the bicommunal working groups, which will deal with substantive issues, and the bicommunal technical committees, which will discuss issues affecting the day-to-day life of the people. There is a broad consensus on the way forward, based on procedural clarifications and agreements, including preliminary agreement on the list of issues for the technical committees and the working groups. However, differences remain concerning the interpretation of the agreement, most notably on what constitutes a day-to-day matter, and the mechanism for resolving disagreements. Although an understanding ad referendum was reached at the Coordination Committee meetings on 9 and 10 March, it foundered on the above points. Despite the commitment of the two leaders in July to ensuring that the “right atmosphere” prevail for the process to be successful, including by putting an end to the so-called blame game, the two sides continued to engage in mutual recriminations throughout the reporting period.

5.       On 27 March, in a statement to the press, the members of the Security Council urged both communities to work with the United Nations to implement the 8 July agreement, in particular through the immediate creation of bicommunal working groups and technical committees in order to prepare the ground for full-fledged negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement.

6.       On 9 February, I met the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Abdullah Gül, in New York and stressed the need for both sides to implement the 8 July agreement without delay. Mr. Gül promised that Turkey would be supportive in seeking a lasting solution under the auspices of my good offices mission. He expressed the hope that the 8 July agreement would lead to a meaningful dialogue.

7.       In a meeting on 20 March in New York, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, Dora Bakoyannis, stressed to me the need for the 8 July agreement to be implemented, and stated that discussion of all issues, including contentious ones such as property should be allowed. She also emphasized the importance of adhering to the agreed framework, stating that the leaders should meet one week after the formal launch of the process, as suggested by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs last November. I reiterated to the Minister the need for both sides to implement the 8 July agreement.

8.       On 29 March, I met the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in Riyadh. Expressing his gratitude to the United Nations for its efforts in the search for a comprehensive settlement, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of planning the next phase. He recalled that my predecessor’s report of 28 May 2004 to the Security Council (S/2004/437) had not been acted upon yet. In that connection, he reiterated that the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots should be lifted. I stated to the Prime Minister that all concerned needed to be encouraged to engage in the 8 July agreement process.

9.       Early in April, Mr. Talat shared with me his misgivings over the direction in which the process appeared to be moving. Nonetheless, his adviser assured my Special Representative and the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs of the continuing commitment of the Turkish Cypriot side to the 8 July agreement process. In the meantime, the Greek Cypriot side also reconfirmed its commitment to the process. In the light of these developments, my Special Representative has continued his efforts with both sides.

10.     On 24 April, the results of an independent island-wide opinion poll, commissioned by UNFICYP to evaluate the effectiveness and ongoing relevance of the United Nations work in Cyprus, indicated popular support in both communities for the 8 July agreement process and its stated objectives. It revealed that a large majority in each community would accept a solution based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation. According to the same poll, only a small minority in each community believed that the status quo was the answer.

11.     The European Union aid package for the Turkish Cypriot community has begun to be implemented. The purpose of this assistance is to help reduce the socio-economic disparities between the sides, and it should therefore be considered as a positive step towards lifting the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, as called for by my predecessor in his report of 28 May 2004, by which I stand. On 11 December 2006, the presidency of the European Union expressed its full support for the resumption of the negotiations for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem under the auspices of the Secretary-General.

 

        III.   Operations of the Force

 

             A.    Prevention of the recurrence of fighting and maintenance of the military status quo

 

12.     The military and security situation along the ceasefire lines continued to be largely stable. In general, the opposing forces cooperated with UNFICYP to ensure peace and security in the buffer zone.

13.     There were a total of 473 violations and other incidents during the reporting period. That represents an increase of 143 violations over the last reporting period, owed to civilian incursions into the buffer zone during the hunting season. The number of violations by the opposing forces was similar to those that characterized previous reporting periods. Typical violations included exceeding the permitted manning of positions, limited construction at and improvements to observation posts, and the photographing of opposing force positions. In addition, the forces of both sides serving in the observation post positions along the ceasefire line in the old city of Nicosia have often demonstrated lack of discipline. Incidents included the shouting of insults and the throwing of stones or bottles towards the opposing position, towards soldiers authorized to work on observation posts, or towards civilian vehicles outside the buffer zone. Such incidents persisted despite UNFICYP protests, and the opposing forces appeared unwilling to prevent these activities.

14.     In late December, the Turkish Cypriots dismantled the bridge over the military patrol track, north of the Turkish Forces ceasefire line on Ledra Street. Once the work had been completed, a fibreglass wall was erected along the Turkish Forces ceasefire line. In early March, the National Guard removed the wall on Ledra Street south of their ceasefire line. The National Guard replaced the concrete structure with a fibreglass wall. Both sides continue to maintain a military presence in these locations. The National Guard has additionally installed a high-powered searchlight that has been the subject of protests from the Turkish Cypriot side. Since the destruction of the bridge and the concrete wall, UNFICYP has been engaged in discussions with representatives of both opposing forces in an attempt to facilitate the long-delayed opening of a crossing point along Ledra Street.

15.     The Turkish Forces have previously shown restraint when civilians have approached their ceasefire line. During the reporting period, the Turkish Forces demonstrated a greater willingness to engage civilians close to their ceasefire line, in full implementation of their rules of engagement. On two separate occasions, Turkish Forces fired warning shots in the direction of Greek Cypriot farmers working close to the Turkish Forces ceasefire line. In the first incident on 30 January, a United Nations patrol in the area of Athienou reported approximately 10 shots fired into the buffer zone from behind the Turkish Forces ceasefire line. In the second incident on 31 January, a Greek Cypriot working in the vicinity of Astromeritis reported approximately six shots fired by a Turkish Forces patrol. The Commander of the Turkish Forces confirmed that his troops had fired warning shots towards civilians in the buffer zone and stated that the principal concern of the Turkish Forces regarded the use of land close to their ceasefire line. UNFICYP strongly protested both incidents.

16.     On a number of occasions, civilian persons from both communities contributed to raising tensions in the buffer zone, particularly in areas close to the Turkish Forces ceasefire line. In separate incidents a shotgun was discharged, from the Greek Cypriot side, in the direction of a Turkish Force observation post and a United Nations sign was erected to indicate that the perimeter of the buffer zone was damaged by gunshots. Unruly behaviour of civilians in the buffer zone disrupted UNFICYP operations at least twice and involved assaults against United Nations personnel and damage to United Nations equipment.

17.     The hunting season saw continued ingress into the buffer zone by members of the Greek Cypriot community. UNFICYP responded to prevent an increase in tension and ensure that those who entered the buffer zone left without incident. Both communities have been urged to exercise restraint and to comply with UNFICYP procedures during the forthcoming harvest season. Of principal concern is the Kaimakli area of north-east Nicosia (sector 2), where Greek Cypriot farmers reportedly intend to work on land close to the Turkish Forces ceasefire line, and Avlona area, where Greek Cypriot farmers have attempted to farm close to the Turkish Forces ceasefire line, without UNFICYP approval.

18.     I am encouraged that neither side conducted major military manoeuvres during the reporting period, and urge the opposing forces to exercise similar restraint in the forthcoming period. However, both opposing forces completed limited military exercises close to their ceasefire lines. The Turkish Forces conducted exercises, typically at company strength (70-80 personnel), some of which involved the deployment of heavy weapons, including mortars and anti-tank recoilless rifles. These were held in training areas approximately 2,000m north of their ceasefire line. The National Guard, contrary to advance information given to UNFICYP, deployed vehicle-mounted machine guns to observation posts along their ceasefire line and exercised at regimental strength with mortars within 1,000m of their ceasefire line.

19.     The Turkish Forces have completed routine maintenance on the liaison post at Strovilia and have persistently overmanned the position, in violation of the military status quo in the area. The observation posts constructed by both sides in the Dherinia area in the summer of 2006, referred to in the previous report (S/2006/931), remain in place and negotiations for their destruction have stalled. UNFICYP operations in Varosha continue to be hampered by restrictions, imposed by the Turkish Forces, on access to and movement within the fenced area. The United Nations continues to hold the Government of Turkey responsible for the status quo in Varosha.

 

           B.    Mine action

 

20.     Mine clearance operations continued until the end of December 2006. By this time, the 13 Turkish Forces minefields located in the vicinity of Nicosia had been cleared. Following the completion of this operation, Nicosia was declared landmine-free in a ceremony held in the buffer zone. UNFICYP, on behalf of the Mine Action Centre, has continued discussions with the Turkish Forces/Turkish Cypriot Security Forces to identify additional mined areas and to agree on terms for their clearance. Due to the reservations of the Turkish Forces concerning the potential civilian use of the cleared areas and Turkish Cypriot objections regarding the source of European Union funding of the mine-clearing operation, these discussions have failed to produce positive results and no mine-clearing has taken place since the beginning of this year. In order to respond to priority tasks such as the verification of the proposed Ledra Street crossing and to ensure a rapid resumption of full activities once agreement on access to minefields is reached, the programme has retained a reduced capacity from both contractors. I encourage the earliest conclusion of negotiations so that demining activities may resume.

21.     From the inception of the programme in October 2004, over 2.2 million m2 of land have been released, with 25 minefields cleared and 2,816 mines destroyed (1,320 anti-personnel and 1,496 anti-tank). Since the previous report on UNFICYP (S/2006/931), 323,153 m2 of land have been released through survey activities. In December 2006, the European Union confirmed that an additional €4 million would be made available for mine action, bringing the total amount of European Union funding to €9 million.

 

             C.    Restoration of normal conditions and humanitarian functions

 

22.     UNFICYP continued to work with its United Nations partners and local actors to facilitate projects of common benefit for Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots in and outside the buffer zone and to promote confidence-building measures between them. In addition, UNFICYP continued to carry out its functions with regard to the maintenance of law and order.

23.     Cypriots on both sides of the buffer zone continued to use the crossing points for various activities, including trade, religious and bicommunal events, without major incidents. UNFICYP has recorded approximately 13 million crossings since the opening of the crossing points in April 2003. That figure does not include crossings in Pergamos since 1 September 2006, when the Turkish Cypriot side discontinued sharing statistics on the movement of people at that crossing. Since August 2004, goods worth approximately £C 2 million (more than US$ 4 million) have crossed the Green Line from the north to the south of the buffer zone, reflecting a significant increase (£C 1 million for the period August 2004 to December 2006 and more than £C 1 million for the reporting period alone). During the period August 2004 to April 2007, goods worth approximately £C 500,000 (approximately US$ 1 million) crossed from south to north.

24.     No agreement was reached on the opening of additional crossing points, despite some positive steps taken by both sides towards the opening of the Ledra Street crossing point in Nicosia (see para. 14). By its letter of 8 March, the Greek Cypriot side informed my Special Representative that it had decided to proceed with construction work at a prospective crossing point between Kato Pyrgos-Karavosti in the north-western part of Cyprus. Construction work is under way to the west of the National Guard ceasefire line outside the buffer zone.

25.     UNFICYP facilitated 37 bicommunal events with the participation of approximately 2,000 people from both sides. These events were held in the buffer zone, at the Ledra Palace Hotel, which continues to be viewed by both sides as an essential, neutral venue for hosting bicommunal activities. There was a significant increase in the number of events at the Ledra Palace during the reporting period. In December 2006, in the bicommunal village of Pyla, UNFICYP facilitated a children’s event, which included the nursery and primary schools of both Cypriot communities. That event was followed by commitments to continue to engage in joint cultural activities in 2007. UNFICYP also supported a United Nations Development Programme-led international civil society fair from 3 to 5 May at the Ledra Palace Hotel crossing with about 1,500 participants.

26.     Regular monthly meetings between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political party leaders continued to be held at the Ledra Palace Hotel under the auspices of the Embassy of Slovakia. My Special Representative attended these meetings on a number of occasions to brief participants on the political process. In March, for the first time, the political party leaders agreed on a range of bicommunal confidence-building initiatives, though of limited scope.

27.     During the reporting period, UNFICYP conducted 60 humanitarian convoys and humanitarian visits in support of the 384 Greek Cypriots and 142 Maronites living in the north. An increasing number of Maronite and Greek Cypriot persons are expressing an interest in returning permanently to their villages in the north, often to look after parents who stayed behind and are now growing too old to look after themselves. UNFICYP continued to assist Turkish Cypriots living in the south in obtaining identity documents, housing, welfare services, medical care, employment and education.

28.     The trend towards increased construction on the Turkish Cypriot side continues to be a cause of concern, as it may complicate efforts towards a comprehensive settlement. UNFICYP received complaints from the Greek Cypriot side that uninhabited houses in Rizokarpaso belonging to Greek Cypriots were being demolished. UNFICYP confirmed that and protested to the Turkish Cypriot side the practice of demolishing houses without the owners’ consent. UNFICYP personnel faced difficulties accessing the Greek Cypriot community in the Karpas area, with restrictions being placed by local police on home visits without prior clearance. UNFICYP has protested these new restrictions. UNFICYP has two police officers based in Leonarisso, to attend to the Greek Cypriot inhabitants in this region and to assist with the weekly resupply runs and home visits. On 18 and 19 April, UNFICYP personnel were prevented by the Turkish Cypriot side from accessing the Leonarisso station in the north to perform regular health, safety and maintenance-related tasks. UNFICYP protested these incidents.

29.     UNFICYP continued to follow the establishment of a Turkish language primary school in Limassol, to which the Greek Cypriot side had committed in March 2005. The school is not yet operational. At its request, UNFICYP met with the Turkish Cypriot Teachers’ Trade Union on this subject and other issues related to the education of Turkish Cypriot schoolchildren in the south. The formal proceedings of the lawsuit filed by the Turkish Cypriot Teachers’ Trade Union with the Supreme Court to guarantee Turkish Cypriots the right to an education in their mother tongue have been adjourned several times (see S/2006/931, para. 27). The next trial date is set for 7 June 2007. UNFICYP follows developments on this issue, pending the outcome of the judicial proceedings. At the same time, efforts continue to improve conditions for Turkish Cypriot children in a Greek Cypriot school in Limassol.

30.     UNFICYP assisted in arranging two pilgrimages by Greek Cypriots to churches in the buffer zone. On 9 April, approximately 100 Greek Cypriots visited the Varisha church to conduct annual religious services, and on 1 May, approximately 200 Greek Cypriots prayed at the Ayios Georgios Soleas church. In addition, on 6 May approximately 140 Armenian Cypriots visited the Saint Magar Armenian Monastery on the northern slopes of the Kyrenia mountain range for the first time since 1974.

31.     UNFICYP is facilitating a request by the Maronite community to return an icon from a museum in the north to the church in the Maronite village of Kormakitis. It has also been asked to facilitate the temporary relocation of 15 icons from the church in Kormakitis for restoration works in the south. These issues have been taken up with the Turkish Cypriot authorities.

32.     UNFICYP continued to receive requests from both Cypriot communities in relation to the desecration of, access to and preservation of sites and items of cultural and religious significance. On 21 February, H.E. Chrysostomos II, Archbishop of Nova Justina and All Cyprus, and Ahmet Yönlüer, the head of religious affairs in the north, met under the auspices of the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, René van der Linden. They expressed their mutual commitment to contribute to an atmosphere of trust and tolerance in Cyprus and agreed “to take practical steps to promote respect, including efforts towards restoration, for sites of religious significance of the other community”. As a first step, they planned to work towards the goal of enabling worship at the Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque in Larnaca and the Apostolos Andreas Monastery on the Karpas Peninsula. My Special Representative has since written to the two religious leaders to congratulate them on their meeting and encourage them to address specific issues of concern to both communities.

33.     The number of civilians seeking to construct or otherwise develop land in the buffer zone, often outside of the procedures established by UNFICYP to safeguard the stability of and security within the buffer zone, continues to grow. A significant part of the resources and energy of UNFICYP operations is increasingly geared towards addressing this development. UNFICYP continues to call on both sides to provide greater support to the Mission in exercising its mandate in the buffer zone with respect to civilian activities. To this end, UNFICYP continued discussions with the two sides on practical modalities to prevent unauthorized civilian activities in the buffer zone outside of the areas designated for civilian use.

34.     A number of projects were authorized by UNFICYP during the reporting period, in accordance with its mandate to restore normal conditions in the buffer zone. These included the sinking of a well to supply water to both communities in the villages of Petra/Taskoy and Peristerona/Cengizkoy, the replacement of an asbestos water pipeline from the water pump into the village of Kato Kopia/Zumrutkoy, construction works for an access road and the construction of a fenced road to the Pascal School in Nicosia, the construction of a pumping station to help implement the sewerage system in wider Nicosia and the construction of a road to the Palouriotissa Lyceum in Nicosia.

35.     UNFICYP facilitated anti-malaria spraying activities in the buffer zone, carried out by the health services of both sides, until the last week of December 2006. The anti-malaria spraying activities resumed on 5 April and will continue until December 2007. UNFICYP continued to engage the local authorities on both sides in an anti-dumping campaign, in response to an increase in the number of illegal waste dumping sites in the buffer zone. In this connection, UNFICYP also supported a campaign led by the United Nations Development Programme to promote environmental awareness in the buffer zone.

36.     During the reporting period, UNFICYP was faced with increasing incidences of unauthorized, at times challenging, behaviour of members of the Greek Cypriot community living in the buffer zone. On 4 January, an incident took place in the area of Troulli village on an unauthorized road construction site in the buffer zone. It resulted in criminal charges being laid against three members of the Greek Cypriot community. This and other similar cases are beginning to show an emerging pattern of increased questioning of UNFICYP authority in the buffer zone.

37.     UNFICYP continued liaising with the two sides on law enforcement and issues related to crossings. Twenty medical evacuations were facilitated from the north, and the remains of three Greek Cypriots were returned for burial in their villages in the northern part of the island. Prison visits and interviews with inmates and relevant officials of detention facilities continued. There are currently 20 Turkish Cypriots detained in the south and one Greek Cypriot in custody in the north.

38.     While exchange of information on criminal matters between the two communities through UNFICYP continues to some degree, during the reporting period no further progress was made in bringing the two sides closer on law enforcement matters. This lack of cooperation undermines UNFICYP efforts to facilitate the resolution of law enforcement-related issues involving the two sides, in particular in the buffer zone. This was evident during an incident near Pyla village in the buffer zone, on 26 January, where the Turkish Cypriot side confronted UNFICYP police who had attempted to facilitate the Greek Cypriot side’s access to a tragic accident scene. Incidents of illegal crossings of the buffer zone continue unabated. Reports concerning the arrests of persons involved in human trafficking are encouraging. There is still a need for greater cooperation between the two sides on these and other criminal matters. Following the opening of the crossing points, UNFICYP has been receiving increased requests to assist in locating third party nationals suspected of having been victims of trafficking on the island.

39.     UNFICYP continued to coordinate and facilitate activities on gender-related issues on the island, such as the Cypriot Women’s Policy Group. Made up of women from both sides of the island, it provides a platform for addressing gender issues throughout Cyprus. On International Women’s Day, UNFICYP hosted an event consisting of a play on domestic violence, which was written, directed and acted in by UNFICYP staff, followed by a bicommunal panel discussion on ending impunity for violence against women. Municipal representatives of both north and south Nicosia attended, and discussions have since ensued on funding for a bicommunal shelter for battered and trafficked women.

 

      IV.   Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus

 

40.     During the reporting period, the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus pursued its project on the exhumation, identification and return of remains in Cyprus, launched in August 2006. To date, the remains of over 250 individuals have been exhumed from sites on both sides of the buffer zone. Approximately 150 have undergone examination at the Committee’s anthropological laboratory in the United Nations Protected Area in Nicosia. At the beginning of April, the first bone samples were sent to the DNA laboratory for formal identification. It is expected that the process of returning remains of missing individuals to their families will begin in June.

41.     The project on the exhumation, identification and return of remains in Cyprus, which is entirely bicommunal in character, continues to benefit from broad political and public support. The above-mentioned opinion poll shows that almost all Greek Cypriots and a strong majority of Turkish Cypriots believe that the process of exhumation and identification of remains is essential to resolving the issue of missing persons.

 

     V.   Financial and administrative aspects

 

42.     As indicated in my previous report (S/2006/931), the General Assembly, in its resolution 60/270 of 30 June 2006, appropriated for the maintenance of UNFICYP for the period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007 the amount of $44.8 million gross ($43 million net). In this regard, I am grateful for the voluntary contribution of one third of the cost of the Mission, equivalent to $14.9 million, by the Government of Cyprus, and the voluntary contribution of $6.5 million by the Government of Greece. I invite other countries and organizations to do likewise, with a view to reducing the portion of the cost of UNFICYP covered by assessed contributions.

43.     The proposed budget for the maintenance of UNFICYP for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, which amounts to some $46.8 million, is currently under consideration by the General Assembly.

44.     As at 31 March 2007, the total outstanding assessed contributions to the special account for UNFICYP for the period from 16 June 1993 to 15 June 2007 amounted to $17.9 million. The total outstanding assessed contributions for all peacekeeping operations as at the same date amounted to $1,801.5 million.

45.     As at 31 December 2006, amounts owed to troop contributors totalled $8.8 million. As a result of the delay in the receipt of assessed contributions, reimbursement of troop and contingent-owned equipment costs has been made only for the period up to 30 April 2006 and 31 March 2006, respectively.

46.     In the previous report on Cyprus, reference was made to the conditions endured by UNFICYP soldiers at Ledra Palace Hotel and Camp San Martin. The report stressed the urgency and importance of swift completion of the repair work needed to ensure the minimum level of health and safety requirements for the Force troops. Since then, despite prolonged dialogue between the United Nations and the Republic of Cyprus, and discussions between the Government of the troop-contributing country concerned and the host Government, very limited progress has been achieved towards resolving this issue. On 24 May, following a meeting with UNFICYP, the Cypriot authorities undertook to provide a detailed workplan for the refurbishment shortly. In the meantime, the continued exposure of UNFICYP personnel to these hazards presents an unacceptable risk to their health and safety. I therefore call on the host Government to comply with its legal obligation to provide appropriate accommodation facilities under the status of forces agreement.

 

VI.   Observations

 

47.     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 this connection, UNFICYP will continue to support civilian activities in the buffer zone in full respect of ownership rights. However, such activities will not be allowed at the expense of stability and security for which the United Nations bears direct responsibility. Moreover, I firmly believe 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.

48.     In the absence of a comprehensive settlement, UNFICYP has played an important role in maintaining peace and security in Cyprus. Nonetheless, the continued involvement of the international community in Cyprus, through UNFICYP, at least in its current form, should not be taken for granted. After 43 years of 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.

49.     Despite the absence of significant progress, the parties have taken small but incremental steps in the right direction. There has 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.

50.     A sustained dialogue between the two sides is itself no small achievement, in the light of the continuing mistrust between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots, especially since the 2004 referendums. The time has come, however, to move from talks about procedure to substance. 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 Security 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.

51.     I regret 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. In addition, I believe that an active and flourishing civil society could provide critical support to the political process. In this regard, I encourage all Cypriots to become more involved in the debate on the future of their country.

52.     It is my 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 with deeds through sincere efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement. It should also be clear to all that there is a considerable body of work and basic agreements relating to the established parameters for a solution, which may be drawn on in the search for a future settlement.

53.     I note with regret that no further progress has been achieved during the reporting period on demining. I urge the Turkish Forces and the Turkish Cypriot side to re-engage with UNFICYP to renew the agreement in order to allow for the completion of mine clearing in the buffer zone.

54.     I am gratified that the Committee on Missing Persons has maintained the momentum and advanced towards resolving one of the most painful aspects of the Cyprus problem. I sincerely hope that this bicommunal endeavour will not only address a burning humanitarian question, but will also reflect positively on both communities’ broader efforts towards reconciliation.

55.     I am grateful for the strong support received both in New York and on the island from the members of the Security Council, as well as other Member States, for United Nations efforts.

56.     In the absence of a comprehensive settlement, the presence of UNFICYP on the island remains important. I therefore recommend that the Security Council extend the mandate of the Force by a further period of six months, until 15 December 2007. At the same time, there may be a need for a further review of the operation at an appropriate juncture.

57.     In conclusion, I wish to express my appreciation to my Special Representative and Chief of Mission, Michael Møller, to the Force Commander, Major General Rafael Barni, and to the men and women serving in UNFICYP for the efficiency and dedication with which they have discharged the responsibilities entrusted to them by the Security Council.


Annex

                 Countries providing military and civilian police personnel (as at 30 April 2007)

 

Country

Military personnel

Argentina*

292

Austria

4

Canada

1

Hungary

84

Slovakia*

200

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

275

      Total

856

 

 

United Nations police

Argentina

4

Australia

15

Bosnia

3

Croatia

2

El Salvador

7

India

4

Italy

4

Ireland

18

Netherlands

7

      Total

64

 

*  The Argentinian contingent includes soldiers from Chile (15), Paraguay (14) and Peru (14).

*  The Slovakian contingent includes soldiers from Croatia (4).

 

—————————————————————-

 

S/2006/931 – Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations operation in Cyprus

United Nations

S/2006/931

  Security Council Distr.: General

1 December 2006

Original: English

 


REPORT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON THE UNITED NATIONS
OPERATION IN CYPRUS

I. Introduction

 

1.       The present report on the United Nations operation in Cyprus covers developments from 18 May to 27 November 2006 and brings up to date the record of activities carried out by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) pursuant to Security Council resolution 186 (1964) and subsequent Council resolutions, most recently resolution 1687 (2006).

2.       As at 15 November, the strength of the military component stood at 853 all ranks and the strength of the police component stood at 60 (see annex).

 

          II.   Mission of good offices and other developments

 

3.       On 15 June, the Security Council adopted resolution 1687 (2006), in which, inter alia, it expressed regret that the gap between words and deeds remained too great for me to resume fully my mission of good offices and urged progress towards the resumption of negotiations for a comprehensive settlement.

4.       Since my last report, dated 23 May 2006 (S/2006/315), my Special Representative in Cyprus, Michael Møller, has continued to engage with the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders and their representatives. His efforts have focused on assisting them to re-engage in the implementation of their agreements and undertakings aimed at the resumption of negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement.

5.       Early in July, at my request, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari, undertook an overview mission to the region. In Turkey and Greece, he met with the respective Foreign Ministers and senior Foreign Ministry officials. In Cyprus, the Greek Cypriot leader, Tassos Papadopoulos and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat met, for the first time, just prior to Mr. Gambari’s visit, on the occasion of the installation of the third member of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus.

6.       On 8 July, the Greek Cypriot leader and the Turkish Cypriot leader met in the presence of the Under-Secretary-General, where they agreed on and signed a set of principles and decisions. In the course of that meeting, I had an opportunity to talk to both of them and to encourage them to live up to the expectations of the international community. By their agreement, they recognized 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 discussion by technical committees of issues affecting the day-to-day life of the people and, concurrently, consideration by working groups of substantive issues, both of which would contribute to a comprehensive settlement. They also committed themselves to ensuring that the right atmosphere prevailed for this process to be successful, including by ending mutual recriminations (see S/2006/572, annexes I and II).

7.       On 29 August, the Security Council was briefed by the Under-Secretary-General on the outcome of his mission. Following the briefing, the President of the Security Council read a statement to the press, in which the members of the Council expressed support for my continued efforts aimed at reaching a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, welcomed the 8 July agreement reached during the Under-Secretary-General’s mission to the region and called for full implementation of the 8 July agreement without further delay.

8.       Since then, my Special Representative has been engaged in intensive discussions with both sides aimed at implementing the 8 July agreement. On 19 September, I met with Mr. Papadopoulos in New York and discussed the Cyprus problem, including issues relating to the implementation of the 8 July agreement. In the light of the differences that emerged between the two sides regarding the implementation of the agreement, the Under-Secretary-General wrote to the two leaders on 15 November suggesting a way forward.

9.       Both leaders replied on 18 November, formally accepting the Under-Secretary-General’s suggestions. The stage is therefore now set for positive forward movement, and I urge both sides to show the necessary goodwill and determination to overcome their apparent deep mutual distrust and suspicion of each other’s true motives. I also hope that a stop will be put to the so-called blame game that has been carried out relentlessly and unhelpfully by officials and the press of both sides, contravening the letter and the spirit of the 8 July agreement.

10.     On 20 November, I met with Mr. Talat in Geneva. He reiterated the commitment of the Turkish Cypriot side to a comprehensive settlement under the auspices of the United Nations. I welcomed his positive response to the Under-Secretary-General’s suggestions and urged him to move forward without delay on the implementation of the 8 July agreement. Mr. Talat promised to do his utmost in that connection. He also reiterated the need to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots. I responded that I continued to stand by my report of 28 May 2004 to the Security Council (S/2004/437), in which I indicated that the isolation of the north must be lifted.

11.     Under the terms of the 8 July agreement, the two leaders have recognized that the status quo is unacceptable and that a comprehensive settlement is both desirable and possible. Their commitment to achieving such a settlement now needs to be demonstrated. I have made it clear to both of them that what is important is not a declaration of intent but action from both sides to narrow the gap between words and action and indicate to me and my successor that they are ready to resume and move ahead in earnest with talks aimed at settling the Cyprus issue. This will require compromise and political will. I encourage the two leaders to move ahead on the implementation of the 8 July agreement now that they have agreed to the suggestions put forward by the Under-Secretary-General.

12.     Other efforts undertaken by the international community in the course of the reporting period include an initiative of the Finnish Presidency of the European Union which, however, was not successful. Insofar as such initiatives are acceptable to all concerned and contribute to the overall goal of a comprehensive settlement, they may have a catalytic effect and efforts in this regard should be welcomed.

13.     During the reporting period, there has been a disturbing trend that impinges on the ability of organizations and individuals to carry out activities and projects designed to contribute to bi-communal contacts and cooperation throughout the island. As a result, the United Nations, in particular the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has been hampered in its ability to support and implement projects that benefit both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in areas of common concern. This is a regrettable development. Without a strong contribution from civic organizations and individuals, it is hard to imagine a genuine reconciliation in Cyprus. Their efforts need to be nurtured and obstacles to them removed.

 

       III.   Activities of the Force

 

             A.    Prevention of a recurrence of fighting and maintenance of the military status quo

 

14.     The military and security situation along the ceasefire lines remained generally stable. Overall, the opposing forces showed cooperation and exercised restraint. The number of violations and other incidents decreased by 30 per cent from the same period in 2005, from 468 to 330. Those violations, which were mostly minor in nature, included lack of discipline, stone-throwing and verbal abuse, improvements to observation posts, filming of the buffer zone, cocking of weapons and pointing them at United Nations forces and incursions into the buffer zone. The reduction in violations and incidents could be attributed to the effectiveness of the mobile concept of operations in UNFICYP.

15.     Despite the overall reduction of incidents, the mandate of UNFICYP continued to be challenged by both opposing forces. Significant violations by the National Guard included overmanning of an observation post and conducting a military exercise at platoon strength with mortars behind one of their observation posts. In addition, 82 members of the National Guard, including an armed element, attended a funeral inside the buffer zone, and 7 uniformed National Guard personnel attended a church service in the buffer zone. The Turkish Forces/Turkish Cypriot Security Forces manned the Ledra Street bridge. A Turkish Cypriot police element continued to man an unauthorized checkpoint, and the Turkish Forces continued to patrol the vicinity of the Laroujina pocket. The nearby Turkish Forces observation post is regularly overmanned despite frequent protests by UNFICYP. Attempts to restore the status quo in the area have not progressed any further. In response, UNFICYP employed standing patrols and, on occasion, reoccupied some of its static observation towers. Such operations, which call for large numbers of personnel, are sustainable in the short term with the current force and confirm the requirement to maintain flexibility and the existing force levels for the foreseeable future.

16.     As in 2005, the National Guard held its annual military exercise, “Nikiforos”, from 10 to 15 October with the participation of the General Staffs from Greece. The Turkish Forces/Turkish Cypriot Security Forces held their military exercise, “Toros II”, from 7 to 9 November. I should like to reiterate my appeal to both sides to refrain from holding those exercises.

17.     The violation by the Turkish Forces of the military status quo in Strovilia persisted, with an increased number of soldiers manning that position. There has been no change in control by Turkish Forces over limited access of UNFICYP to and freedom of its movement within the fenced area of Varosha. The United Nations continues to hold the Government of Turkey responsible for the status quo in Varosha.

18.     The impasse continued over the dismantling of a National Guard observation post in the vicinity of Dherinia and of a corresponding construction by the Turkish Forces referred to in my report of May 2006 (S/2006/315, para. 11). The National Guard informed UNFICYP it would dismantle its position provided that work began simultaneously to remove the position that the Turkish Forces had constructed in response. The Turkish Forces stated in turn that they would remove their position once the dismantling of the National Guard position had been completed. The issue is the subject of ongoing discussions between UNFICYP and the opposing forces.

19.     The efforts of UNFICYP to achieve demilitarization of the ceasefire lines have stalled. In June, UNFICYP invited the National Guard and the Turkish Forces/Turkish Cypriot Security Forces to submit proposals for unmanning/deconfrontation measures. Throughout the summer, the opposing forces expressed support for the suggestion of UNFICYP and agreed to submit a list of deconfrontation measures, but so far no proposals have been received. UNFICYP will continue its efforts on that issue.

20.     At the onset of the crisis in Lebanon, UNFICYP assisted in moving United Nations personnel and their dependants from Lebanon and supported United Nations humanitarian and other activities in the region. In total, the evacuation operations brought nearly 2,000 people to Cyprus. UNFICYP initially dispatched 30 days worth of supplies to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and coordinated the regular resupply of fuel, water and medical supplies. A rear headquarters and additional aviation resources for UNIFIL were located in the United Nations Protected Area in Nicosia. Helicopter operations to Lebanon were mounted from Nicosia throughout August and continued from Larnaca until early October. Office facilities and secure storage facilities were provided to personnel of the International Independent Investigation Commission (established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1595 (2005)), which relocated to Cyprus.

 

  B.    Demining activity in the buffer zone

 

21.     The Mine Action Centre has to date cleared 1,617,462 square metres of land and disposed of 2,364 landmines from the buffer zone since the start of the programme in November 2004. During the reporting period 12 of the 13 Turkish Forces minefields were cleared, and it is expected that the last will be completed by the end of November 2006. The Mine Action Project has been supported by funds from the European Union.

22.     Since February, UNFICYP had been conducting negotiations with the Turkish Forces/Turkish Cypriot Security Forces to allow for the clearance of additional minefields. In August 2006, both Forces made a commitment in writing to enter into negotiations to extend existing demining guidelines to include all remaining minefields in the buffer zone laid by the Turkish Forces. Discussions to make progress on this important issue continued between UNFICYP and the Turkish Forces/Turkish Cypriot Security Forces.

 

             C.    Restoration of normal conditions and humanitarian functions

 

23.     UNFICYP continued to work with its United Nations partners and local actors to facilitate projects of common benefit for Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots in and outside the buffer zone and to promote confidence-building measures between them.

24.     Cypriots on both sides of the buffer zone continued to use the crossing points for various activities, including trade, religious and bi-communal events, without major incidents. UNFICYP has recorded approximately 12 million crossings since the opening of the crossing points in April 2003. That figure does not include crossings in Pergamos since 1 September, when the Turkish Cypriot side discontinued sharing statistics on the movement of people at that crossing. UNFICYP is following up this matter with the Turkish Cypriot authorities. Goods worth approximately £C 958,000 (about $2 million) crossed the Green Line from the north to the south of the buffer zone, and goods worth approximately £C 358,000 (about $700,000) crossed from south to north. Although there has been a relatively steady flow of persons and goods since the opening of the crossing points and the entry into force of the Green Line Regulation, the potential of those interactions and trade among the people as a catalytic element towards the reunification of the island has yet to be seized.

25.     Since the amendment of the Green Line Regulation in August 2005 to include the provision of three additional crossing points, agreement has not been reached on the modalities of opening them. Consultations regarding the opening of the Ledra Street crossing point in Nicosia remain pending.

26.     UNFICYP facilitated 10 bi-communal events with the participation of approximately 500 people from both sides. Those events were held in the buffer zone, at the Ledra Palace Hotel, which continues to be viewed by both sides as an essential, neutral venue for hosting bi-communal activities. It is noteworthy that since the opening of the crossing points in 2003, there has been a decrease in the number of events at the Ledra Palace as other venues have become available. Regular monthly meetings between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political party leaders continued to be held at the Ledra Palace Hotel under the auspices of the Embassy of Slovakia.

27.     UNFICYP continued its discussions with the Greek Cypriot side, initiated in March 2005, regarding the establishment of a Turkish language primary school in Limassol, which is not yet operational. At their request, UNFICYP met with the Turkish Cypriot Teachers’ Trade Union on that subject and other issues related to the education of Turkish Cypriot schoolchildren in the south, including curricula and textbooks. The formal proceedings of the lawsuit filed by the Turkish Cypriot Teachers’ Trade Union with the Supreme Court to guarantee Turkish Cypriots the right to an education in their mother tongue, mentioned in my previous report (S/2006/315, para. 20), began on 5 May and have been adjourned several times, most recently on 10 November. A new trial date has been set for 6 February 2007. UNFICYP continued to follow up developments on that issue with the Greek Cypriot side, pending the outcome of the judicial proceedings. UNFICYP facilitated the assignment of four additional teachers for the Greek Cypriot secondary school in Rizokarpaso in the north for the school year beginning in September 2006.

28.     During the reporting period, UNFICYP conducted 62 humanitarian convoys and humanitarian visits in support of the 389 Greek Cypriots and 145 Maronites living in the north. UNFICYP continued to assist Turkish Cypriots living in the south in obtaining identity documents, housing, welfare services, medical care, employment and education. UNFICYP also assisted in arranging six visits by Greek Cypriots and Maronites and a commemorative event by Turkish Cypriots inside and outside the buffer zone. On 10 and 11 June, in the northern part of the island, 800 Greek Cypriots attended services at Saint Barnabas Church near Famagusta, and on 23 July, for the first time since 1974, 300 Maronites visited the Prophet Elias Monastery in the village of Saint Marina. On 1 and 2 September, 900 Greek Cypriots attended the annual religious services at Saint Mamas Church in Morphou. On 8 August, 429 Turkish Cypriots travelled for an annual visit to Kokkina in the western part of the island. In the buffer zone, 773 Greek Cypriots visited Saint Marina Church in Dherynia on 17 July, and approximately 70 Greek Cypriots attended services at Ayios Neophytos Church in Troulli on 27 September.

29.     Since the lifting in 2003 of the restrictions on movement across the ceasefire lines, there has been an increasing number of civilians farming and/or an increase in the construction of buildings in the buffer zone, which is in contravention of the procedures established by UNFICYP to safeguard the stability of and security within the buffer zone. A significant part of the resources and energy of UNFICYP operations are currently geared towards addressing that development. Continuing challenges in the buffer zone have the potential to destabilize a still delicate security situation.

30.     During the reporting period, UNFICYP authorized 13 civilian construction projects in the buffer zone, including 2 by a Turkish Cypriot family on the Pyla plateau, and the sinking of a well to supply water to both communities in the villages of Astromeritis/Bostanci and Peristerona/Cengizkoy. UNFICYP also engaged both sides in an anti-dumping campaign in conjunction with local authorities and UNDP in response to an increase in the number of illegal waste dumping sites in the buffer zone. However, the trend described in my previous report (S/2006/315) of construction of unauthorized buildings for personal and commercial use and the utilization of land outside the areas designated for civilian use in the buffer zone continued.

31.     Of particular note during the reporting period have been farming activities, mainly in the area around Nicosia, by farmers wishing to cultivate land beyond the farming security line established by UNFICYP to prevent tension arising from such activities in the buffer zone. On 3 and 11 October, tension rose as result of disputes on farming and land ownership involving Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot farmers in the buffer zone in the area of Kaimakli, north-east of Nicosia. In response to media reports that Greek Cypriot farmers intended to work beyond the farming security line, the Turkish Forces/Turkish Cypriot Security Forces overmanned their nearest position in the area. The situation was further aggravated when Greek Cypriot farmers entered the buffer zone and demanded access to the north of the farming security line. After intensive discussions held by UNFICYP with both sides, the situation was defused. Two press statements warning farmers against crossing the farming security line were issued by UNFICYP on 4 and 10 October. On 26 November, Turkish Cypriot farmers in the area of Avlona/Gayretkoy entered the buffer zone without authorization from UNFICYP to cultivate land owned by Greek Cypriots without their permission. When UNFICYP police and military personnel requested them to cease their activities and leave the area until permits were obtained, the farmers attacked the United Nations patrol, damaging six vehicles. UNFICYP strongly protested the incident. In the light of those incidents, UNFICYP tightened its procedures for issuing farming permits in order to safeguard property rights and maintain security in both areas.

32.     UNFICYP continued liaising with the two sides, in particular on law enforcement and issues related to crossings. Ten medical evacuations were facilitated from the north, and the remains of four Greek Cypriots were returned for burial in their villages in the northern part of the island. Prison visits and interviews with inmates and relevant officials of detention facilities continued. There are currently 22 Turkish Cypriots detained in the south and 1 Greek Cypriot under custody in the north.

33.     During the reporting period, UNFICYP facilitated the exchange of information on criminal matters between the two communities. UNFICYP established closer cooperation with the communities and local municipalities, which has generated a better flow of information and improved the handling of criminal and domestic matters. On two occasions, UNFICYP facilitated the handing over of persons wanted for serious crimes from one side to the other and also enabled a Turkish Cypriot man to provide testimony in a case being investigated in the south. Nevertheless, there is a pressing need to deal with a growing phenomenon of unpunished crimes, some serious, that result from the lack of cooperation between law enforcement agencies on both sides. A rising trend of criminal activity in the buffer zone, in particular human trafficking activities, continue to be reported by both sides. According to information provided by the two sides, fewer persons have been crossing the buffer zone as illegal immigrants, while the number of arrests for human trafficking has increased.

34.     A serious incident occurred on 22 November at a private English language school in Nicosia, in which a group of Turkish Cypriot students attending the school were attacked by a group of Greek Cypriot students from outside the school, reportedly wearing partial face masks. A number of the Turkish Cypriot students were injured in the attack. Three persons have been taken into custody over the incident so far, and the Cyprus police are continuing their investigation. The incident was strongly condemned by President Papadopoulous and other leading authorities on both sides of the divide.

35.     UNFICYP continued to liaise with both sides on the preservation and restoration of cultural and religious sites on the island. UNFICYP was requested by both communities to facilitate the resolution of issues regarding the desecration and deterioration of sites with cultural and religious significance.

36.     UNFICYP continued to coordinate gender-related activities on the island. UNFICYP facilitated separate meetings of the bi-communal Cypriot Women’s Policy Group, which consists of three high-level women representatives from each of the sides, and the bi-communal Anti-Trafficking Group to discuss and address gender issues in Cyprus.

 

        IV.   Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus

 

37.     In July, the new member of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus Christophe Girod, officially took up his duties on the island. Following the Committee meeting of 3 July, which was attended by the leaders of both communities, favourable political will has been demonstrated by all concerned with regard to the issue of missing persons in Cyprus.

38.     The Committee launched its project on the exhumation, identification and return of the remains of missing persons late in August. Intrinsic to the project is its bi-communal structure. Supported by a small team of international experts, both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot scientists are participating in exhumations and the identification process in the Committee’s anthropological laboratory located in the United Nations Protected Area in Nicosia. The final DNA identification phase, due to begin before the end of the year, will be carried out at a local forensic laboratory by another bi-communal team of scientists.

39.     The project is currently financed by voluntary contributions from Cypriot and other sources, including Member States. The Committee is continuing its fund-raising efforts.

 

         V.   Financial and administrative aspects

 

40.     The General Assembly, by its resolution 60/270 of 30 June 2006, appropriated for the maintenance of UNFICYP for the period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007 the amount of $44.8 million gross ($43.0 million net). In this regard, I am grateful for the voluntary contribution of one third of the cost of the Force, equivalent to $14.9 million, by the Government of Cyprus, and the voluntary contribution of $6.5 million by the Government of Greece. Other countries and organizations might wish to do likewise, with a view to reducing the portion of the cost of UNFICYP covered by assessed contributions.

41.     Should the Security Council decide to extend the mandate of UNFICYP for a further period of six months, the cost of maintaining the Force would be limited to the amount approved by the General Assembly.

42.     As at 30 September 2006, the total outstanding assessed contributions to the special account for UNFICYP for the period from 16 June 1993 to 15 December 2006 amounted to $23.5 million. The total outstanding assessed contributions for all peacekeeping operations as at the same date amounted to $2,080.2 million.

43.     As at 31 October 2006, amounts owed to troop contributors totalled $6.2 million. As a result of the delay in the receipt of assessed contributions, reimbursement of troop and contingent-owned equipment costs has been made only for the period up to 30 April 2006 and 31 March 2006, respectively.

44.     I am concerned at the slow pace of the refurbishment of the troop accommodation at the Ledra Palace Hotel and Camp San Martin, and in this connection I wish to stress the urgency and importance of speeding up the required repairs in the interest of the health and safety of the mission’s troops.

 

       VI.   Observations

 

45.     During the reporting period, 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 any serious incidents in the buffer zone. I continue to believe that full acceptance by the opposing forces of the 1989 aide-memoire of the United Nations concerning activities in the buffer zone would further improve the situation, and I call on the sides to consider this without delay. In the same spirit, I would encourage 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.

46.     In the absence of a comprehensive settlement, the presence of UNFICYP remains necessary in maintaining the ceasefire. In this context, I am concerned about the increasing pressure from the civilian population, particularly the Greek Cypriots, to undertake and expand construction projects in the buffer zone, a trend that could undermine security conditions. I must stress that 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.

47.     The steady progress in the clearing of minefields located in the buffer zone is a welcome development. More than 50 per cent of mines have been cleared and destroyed, while the rest should be removed within two years. The success of this operation is due to the good cooperation of the opposing forces with the United Nations and the generous funding from the European Union.

48.     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. I applaud both sides for their constructive approach to this humanitarian issue and urge them to make progress in the same spirit in other areas of common interest.

49.     I must express my concern at the continuing implementation — and in some cases strengthening — of policies that are against the spirit and the letter of the 8 July agreement, by which both sides made a commitment to ensure that the right atmosphere prevails on the island. I also note with concern the criticism and hampering of the United Nations, and particularly of UNDP activities intended to reduce the socio-economic disparities between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities. The obstruction of development and bi-communal activities undermines and marginalizes segments of society and makes it difficult for groups and individuals to contribute to the peace process and the building of trust across divisions. The nurturing of a culture of prejudice and the ensuing lack of trust hampers any constructive efforts towards reaching a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

50.     Having dealt with the Cyprus issue for 10 years, I cannot but regret the continued stalemate in the political process and the missed opportunities. Despite a decade of almost continuous efforts by the United Nations, an agreement on a comprehensive settlement has not proved possible.

51.     At this juncture, it is important, as indicated by the Security Council, that the implementation of the 8 July agreement begin without further delay. The process should lead to a resumption of full-fledged political talks within the framework of the mission of good offices. In this connection, it should be noted that only if progress is achieved will my successor or I be in a position to appoint a special adviser on Cyprus.

52.     The continued active involvement of the international community in Cyprus, through the presence of UNFICYP, should not be taken for granted. In this context, both leaders may wish to refocus and redouble their efforts. It should be emphasized, as indicated in my report of May 2004, that the responsibility lies primarily with the Cypriots themselves. The United Nations remains committed to lending a helping hand, but it is no substitute for genuine political will on the part of all concerned to reach a comprehensive settlement.

53.     In the absence of a comprehensive settlement, I believe that UNFICYP continues to play a vital role, and I therefore recommend that the Security Council extend the mandate of the Force by a further period of six months, until 15 June 2007.

54.     In conclusion, I wish to express my thanks to my Special Representative and Chief of Mission, Michael Møller, the Force Commander, Major General Rafael Barni, and the men and women serving in UNFICYP, for the efficiency and dedication with which they have discharged the responsibilities entrusted to them by the Security Council.


Annex

                 Countries providing military and civilian police personnel as at 15 November 2006

 

Country

Military personnel

Argentinaa

295

Austria

4

Canada

1

Hungary

84

Slovakiab

200

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

269

      Total

853

 

 

 

 

United Nations police

Argentina

4

Australia

15

Croatia

1

El Salvador

7

India

5

Italy

4

Ireland

18

Netherlands

6

      Total

60

 

a  The Argentine contingent includes soldiers from Chile (15), Paraguay (14) and Peru (14).

b  The Slovak contingent includes soldiers from Croatia (4).

 

—————————————————————-

 

S/2006/315 – Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations operation in Cyprus

United Nations

S/2006/315

  Security Council Distr.: General

23 May 2006

Original: English

 


REPORT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON THE UNITED NATIONS
OPERATION IN CYPRUS

 

           I.   Introduction

 

1.       The present report on the United Nations operation in Cyprus covers developments from 25 November 2005 to 17 May 2006 and brings up to date the record of activities carried out by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) pursuant to Security Council resolution 186 (1964) and subsequent Council resolutions, most recently resolution 1642 (2005).

2.       On 31 December 2005, Zbigniew Wlosowicz relinquished his post and on 1 January 2006, Michael Møller succeeded him as my Special Representative and Chief of Mission. The Force Commander, Major General Hebert Figoli (Uruguay), ended his tour of duty on 5 January 2006, and was succeeded by Major General Rafael Barni (Argentina) on 6 March 2006. As at 15 May, the strength of the military component stood at 859, all ranks, and the strength of the police component stood at 69 (see annex).

 

      II.   Mission of good offices and other developments

 

3.       Over the past six months, both the Greek Cypriot leader and the Turkish Cypriot leader renewed their calls for a resumption of my mission of good offices. While there were signals of some willingness to begin to re-engage, there have been no tangible indicators of an evolution in the respective positions.

4.       On 28 February, I met the Greek Cypriot leader, Tassos Papadopoulos, in Paris. I conveyed my assessment that the situation was not yet ripe for the resumption of full-fledged political talks and expressed my concern that the gap between words and deeds was still too wide. I encouraged him to do what he could to narrow those gaps. In March, I conveyed to the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, my readiness to meet with him at a mutually convenient time following his full recovery from a recent medical intervention.

5.       In the course of the reporting period, I also had the opportunity to meet with both Greek and Turkish officials. Late in March, I met with the Greek Foreign Minister to discuss the situation in Cyprus and related issues. In January and March respectively, I met the Turkish Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. The object of the discussions was the action plan on lifting of restrictions in Cyprus put forward by the Turkish Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gül, on 20 January 2006 (see A/60/657-S/2006/48, annex). In that connection, Nicosia indicated on 31 January that it was not in a position to accept Ankara’s proposals (see A/60/671-S/2006/82). Athens held a similar view. I have since held extensive consultations on the proposals.

6.       My new Special Representative took up his duties early in January and started to explore options to encourage progress on the ground and possibilities for a resumption of contacts between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots, which had been suspended for over two years. In February, both agreed to a proposal to establish a mechanism for them to engage on issues of common concern through bicommunal discussions at the technical level. My Special Representative has since been involved in efforts aimed at reaching an agreement on the modalities for such discussions. In order to gauge the pulse of the communities, and build a broad base of support for progress toward the reunification of Cyprus, my Special Representative has also been in contact with wide sectors of civil society and with the wider diplomatic community on the island.

7.       The bicommunal discussions at the technical level are not intended to be a substitute for the negotiating process towards a comprehensive settlement in the framework of my mission of good offices, but a step aimed at building trust and understanding, paving the way for the resumption of full-scale negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement. For the time being, both leaders have agreed in principle to my proposal that they meet on the occasion of the installation of the new third member of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus, anticipated for June 2006.

 

        III.   Activities of the force

 

             A.    Prevention of a recurrence of fighting and maintenance of
the military status quo

 

8.       The military and security situation along the ceasefire lines remained generally stable. Overall, the opposing forces showed cooperation and exercised restraint. The number of incidents during the reporting period increased, although most were minor in nature. The Force recorded 468 incidents from November to May as compared to 397 for the same period in 2005. Minor incidents included overmanning, enhancements to military positions, stone-throwing, weapon-pointing and incursions into the buffer zone. Incidents of a more significant nature included cocking and pointing of weapons and hunting incidents. The noted increase may be attributed in part to the UNFICYP mobile concept of operations implemented since 2004, which brings the United Nations Force into more direct contact with the National Guard and the Turkish Forces/Turkish Cypriot Security Forces and facilitates detection of incidents.

9.       A confrontation over the opening of a new crossing point at Ledra Street in old Nicosia substantially heightened tensions in the early weeks of the reporting period. Both the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots had agreed to open a new crossing point at Ledra Street with UNFICYP facilitation. However, late in November, the Turkish Cypriots decided unilaterally to construct a footbridge over a Turkish Forces patrol track close to the northern edge of the buffer zone. The south was unwilling to open its side of the crossing unless the bridge was removed while the north was unwilling to open its side without the bridge. The south also withdrew its consent for the United Nations to carry out the necessary repair work on the street inside the buffer zone which, for safety reasons, must precede any opening. Tensions subsided in January but neither side has been willing to compromise and Ledra Street remains closed. Both have challenged UNFICYP demarcation of the buffer zone in the area, compounding the difficulties of reaching a solution.

10.     Disputes over demarcation of ceasefire lines and the authority of UNFICYP in the buffer zone increased. This is a long-standing problem, dating back to the failure of the opposing forces to agree on the ceasefire lines in the 1970s. Faced repeatedly with the practical problem of determining violations, in 1989 UNFICYP developed an aide-memoire on the supervision of the ceasefire in Cyprus, which remains the authoritative functional guide for UNFICYP. It was at the time presented to, though not accepted by, both sides. As part of an initiative to ensure that both sides honour UNFICYP authority in the buffer zone and decrease incidents and violations of the status quo, UNFICYP has invited them to engage in consultations to review the aide-memoire and the overall management of the buffer zone.

11.     Over the past three months two violations of the status quo raised tensions in and along the buffer zone. The National Guard replaced and substantially improved an observation post in the vicinity of Dherinia by erecting a significantly larger structure. UNFICYP objected to the construction and repeatedly asked the National Guard to dismantle it and return the position to the status quo ante. At the time of writing, the National Guard had unmanned the position but the structure remained in place. The Turkish Forces initially did not react but then chose to construct a new observation post in the same vicinity. It is also currently unmanned. Each side cited previous infractions by the other to justify its own actions. Unless dismantled, both structures will be recorded as permanent violations. In general, both sides continued to react to provocative actions of the other rather than exercise restraint in order to defuse a situation.

12.     The lifting of the restrictions on freedom of movement of UNFICYP personnel in the north referred to in my report of May 2005 (S/2005/353, para. 15) made possible restoration of operations in areas previously restricted. However, in January, new restrictions were placed on UNFICYP by the Turkish Forces on buffer zone crossing points in sector 4 to the east of Nicosia. UNFICYP police also faced movement restrictions in the Karpas area affecting operations of the small UNFICYP police team based in Leonarisso; meanwhile, a solution was found enabling UNFICYP police to operate effectively in the area.

13.     Turkish Forces continued to man the checkpoint at the Louroujina pocket despite repeated protests by UNFICYP. The United Nations continues to hold the Government of Turkey responsible for the status quo in Varosha. The Turkish Forces/Turkish Cypriot security forces remain in violation of the military status quo in Strovilia. Since March 2006, they have been manning the position with two soldiers whereas previously one soldier occupied the post. UNFICYP also noted an increase in the frequency of visits by senior officers to the position over the same period.

14.     Both forces continue to perceive one another as a potential threat. That perception is reinforced by political and military commentary on both sides. The vast majority of incidents occur in areas where opposing forces are in close proximity to one another, in particular in the Nicosia area where stone-throwing, ill discipline, threats and weapon-pointing incidents are a routine occurrence. Previous UNFICYP unmanning proposals have not been implemented owing to reservations held by both sides. UNFICYP intends to resume efforts to encourage the military of both sides to pull back from the buffer zone and unman positions in old Nicosia.

15.     The United Nations military observer and liaison officer teams continued to make improvements in the exchange of information and the resolution of incidents. There is nevertheless room for improvement in the cooperation of opposing forces with the teams, which are an essential component of the new force structure. Further efforts will be made in the coming months to promote greater cooperation between the regimental commanders of the opposing forces and UNFICYP military observer and liaison officers.

 

       B.    Demining in the buffer zone

 

16.     Of the 48 minefields originally identified in the buffer zone, 20 have been cleared to date. Since National Guard minefields in the buffer zone had been cleared (with the exception of a small section in the Louroujina pocket), the focus during the reporting period was on Turkish military minefields in the Nicosia area, with four minefields, comprising 383,293 square metres, cleared. The Mine Action Centre activity is currently focused on the remaining minefields in the Nicosia area listed by the Turkish side for clearance. Since February, UNFICYP has been in consultation with the Turkish Forces to extend demining beyond the Nicosia area to the rest of the buffer zone. The Mine Action project is currently funded until the end of July 2006 and an agreement has been reached with the European Union to release a further €1 million to fund the programme until the end of 2006. An estimated €6 million would then be required to complete the demining project in the buffer zone.

 

    C.    Restoration of normal conditions and humanitarian functions

 

17.     UNFICYP continued to cooperate with its United Nations partners and the sides to facilitate projects of common benefit for Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots in the buffer zone and to promote confidence-building measures between them. The bicommunal road construction project in the buffer zone at the Astromeritis/Bostanci crossing point, funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office for Project Services, was completed. UNFICYP obtained agreement for the operation of the crossing point on a 24-hour basis, commencing on 30 March 2006. The mission also facilitated other infrastructure improvements for the benefit of the civilian population in the buffer zone including the construction of the Akaki River dam west of Nicosia, road construction in the village of Mammari and the building of a warehouse in Peristerona.

18.     Movement of people and trade across the buffer zone continued. UNFICYP has recorded a total of about 10.6 million crossings since the opening of the crossing points in April 2003. Approximately ₤C1.5 million (about $3 million) worth of goods crossed the Green Line from the north to the south and ₤C350,000 (approximately $700,000) worth of goods crossed from the south to the north. Only a fraction of the crossings have had any incidents associated with them; however, three years after the first opening, there is little to no evidence of integration.

19.     During the reporting period, UNFICYP facilitated 43 bicommunal events with the participation of 1,340 people. These events were held in Ledra Palace in the buffer zone, which continues to be seen as an essential neutral place to host sensitive activities involving members of the two communities. Regular monthly meetings between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political party leaders also continued to be held at Ledra Palace under the auspices of the Embassy of Slovakia. At their invitation, my Special Representative used the occasion of the meeting held in April to brief the political party leaders on his proposals to re-engage the two sides towards a solution of the Cyprus problem.

20.     UNFICYP continued discussions with the Greek Cypriot side regarding the establishment of a Turkish primary school in Limassol, which is not yet operational. Since my last report, UNFICYP has pursued the matter by exploring various options with both sides. The Turkish Cypriot Teachers’ Union filed a lawsuit at the Supreme Court to guarantee Turkish Cypriots’ right to an education in their mother tongue. The trial began on 5 May. The special measures to upgrade the provision of primary education in the existing Greek Cypriot school for Turkish Cypriot students described in my previous report (S/2005/743 and Corr.1, para. 20) are now in place. Late in March the Greek Cypriots offered to consult further with UNFICYP on modalities for opening a separate school; these consultations remain pending. UNFICYP continued to mediate the appointment of one additional teacher for the Greek Cypriot secondary school in Rizokarpaso.

21.     In January, in the mixed village of Pyla in the buffer zone, UNFICYP assisted in bringing the children of the two communities together for a cultural event which was marked by the planting of joint “friendship trees” in their respective schools. The two schools, which are 100 metres apart, had not held any joint activities in almost 30 years. On 30 November, teachers of the two schools held a reconciliation workshop with UNFICYP support, in which pedagogical methods were also discussed.

22.     UNFICYP conducted 64 humanitarian convoys, money deliveries and humanitarian visits as part of its mandated humanitarian tasks in support of the 385 Greek Cypriots and 132 Maronites living in the north. UNFICYP continued to assist Turkish Cypriots living in the south in obtaining identity documents, housing, welfare services, medical care, employment and education. On 24 April, UNFICYP facilitated the pilgrimage of 300 Greek Cypriots to Saint George’s Church in Varisha in the buffer zone. In addition, UNFICYP mediated with both the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots for cooperation on the preservation and restoration of cultural and religious sites, particularly in the north.

23.     UNFICYP has observed an emerging trend of an increase in unauthorized construction of buildings for personal and commercial use and utilization of land outside the areas designated for civilian use in the buffer zone, especially in the vicinity of Pyla and other eastern areas located in sector 4. These are primarily projects carried out by Greek Cypriots. UNFICYP has initiated discussions with the relevant authorities to establish practical procedures ensuring that civilian use of the buffer zone does not compromise the security situation or hamper the ability of UNFICYP to carry out its mandated functions.

24.     UNFICYP police continued to strengthen the working relationship with both sides on enhancing the effectiveness of law enforcement and maintaining law and order in and around the buffer zone. Both the north and the south report an increase in crime through the buffer zone, such as smuggling of goods, including cigarettes, explosives (fireworks) and narcotics, and human trafficking. Local police and municipal authorities have begun to show some willingness to cooperate with UNFICYP on such matters and UNFICYP police have established a coordination mechanism to research and map reported crimes occurring in and across the buffer zone. UNFICYP police have also strengthened their patrolling capability and now conduct joint patrols with UNIFCYP military in the Nicosia area. Increased interaction with the police services on the island facilitated good cooperation in dealing with public order and safety matters in the buffer zone, such as demonstrations, pilgrimages, hunter incursions and medical emergency transportation. Continued attempts to enhance information-sharing between the north and the south on criminal matters affecting both sides have met with little success. UNFICYP police continued to visit prisons in order to monitor the general conditions and fair treatment of Turkish Cypriots in the south and Greek Cypriots in the north. During the reporting period, there were 4 Greek Cypriots detained and released in the north; there are currently 27 Turkish Cypriots serving sentences in the south.

25.     UNFICYP continued to coordinate activities on gender-related issues. On International Women’s Day, UNFICYP hosted a bicommunal panel of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot women to discuss the subject of trafficking of women in Cyprus. A bicommunal anti-trafficking group was formed at the event and will meet periodically under United Nations auspices at Ledra Palace. In addition, UNFICYP continued to organize meetings and activities of the bicommunal Cypriot Women’s Policy Group, a group of prominent women who meet periodically to discuss modalities for cooperation between the two communities.

26.     My new Special Representative has emphasized the need for greater cohesiveness in the efforts of the United Nations system in Cyprus. UNFICYP has been coordinating more closely with the United Nations Development Programme, represented on the island by two projects: Action for Cooperation and Trust and Partnership for the Future. Action for Cooperation and Trust was launched in November 2005 to build networks of cooperation between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities. To date, the project has contributed to several joint activities between the north and the south to promote HIV/AIDS awareness. It has also facilitated a process of consultations among veterinary and health experts from the north, the south and the international community, including the World Health Organization, which intensified when avian influenza was found in birds on the island in January. Action for Cooperation and Trust has also collaborated with UNFICYP on the issue of religious and cultural heritage sites.

27.     The project, Partnership for the Future, focuses on the rehabilitation of the old city of Nicosia in cooperation with the Nicosia Master Plan and provides direct support to small businesses on both sides of the island through targeted capacity-building activities and grant schemes. Following the commitment made by the European Union in 2004 to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community, the project was entrusted by the European Union with helping to reduce the socio-economic imbalance between the two communities, thereby facilitating the reconciliation process. The project does this through targeted technical assistance initiatives covering private sector development, infrastructure development and the preservation of cultural heritage, and feasibility studies for the economic development of the northern part of Cyprus.

 

    IV.   Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus

 

28.     In the course of the reporting period, the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus finalized the project proposal document on the exhumation, identification and return of remains of missing persons. This marked the end of a lengthy process of discussions, analysis and consultations with all entities involved. The Committee decided to place emphasis on local participation and ownership, thereby strengthening the project’s potential positive impact on the broader reconciliation process. Progress has also been made with regard to the necessary infrastructure. As agreed, an anthropological laboratory was built in the buffer zone for the examination and storage of the remains of missing persons. The Turkish Cypriot laboratory involved in DNA testing is operational. The project will be launched as soon as the necessary funding has been secured. All progress to date has been made possible by voluntary contributions.

29.     Exhumations were carried out twice for capacity assessment purposes under the supervision of an international forensic expert. This occasion brought together, for the first time, the Committee’s new bicommunal team of archaeologists and anthropologists, composed of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot scientists who will play a major role throughout the project. Both sides agreed to the appointment of a new third member of the Committee, Christophe Girod, who will assume his duties in the course of June 2006.

 

       V.   Financial aspects

 

30.     As indicated in my previous report (S/2005/743 and Corr.1), the General Assembly, in its resolution 59/284 B, appropriated for UNFICYP the amount of $46.5 million. In this regard, I am grateful for the voluntary contribution of one third of the cost of the Force, equivalent to $14.7 million, by the Government of Cyprus, and the voluntary contribution of $6.5 million by the Government of Greece Other countries and organizations might wish to do likewise, in order to reduce the portion of the cost of UNFICYP covered by assessed contributions.

31.     My proposed budget for the maintenance of UNFICYP for the period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007, which amounts to some $45.0 million, is currently under consideration by the General Assembly, which is expected to act on it shortly.

32.     As at 31 January 2006, the total outstanding assessed contributions to the special account for UNFICYP for the period from 16 June 1993 to 15 June 2006 amounted to $25.4 million. The total outstanding assessed contributions for all peacekeeping operations as at the same date amounted to $2,664.5 million.

33. Reimbursement of troop and contingent-owned equipment costs has been made for the periods up to 31 January 2006 and 31 December 2005, respectively, in accordance with the quarterly payment schedule.

 

        VI.   Observations

 

34.     Over the past six months, the ceasefire in Cyprus was maintained and the situation remained stable. On the whole, both sides extended good cooperation to UNFICYP, with some exceptions. Threats to United Nations peacekeepers by soldiers of opposing forces and disagreements with UNFICYP over the delineation of the buffer zone are indications that both sides are willing to take security risks to make gains on the ground or score points against each other. Differing opinions on the regime in the buffer zone inevitably lead to encroachments and changes to the status quo. In the absence of agreed ceasefire lines, the National Guard and the Turkish Forces/Turkish Cypriot Security Forces should respect UNFICYP operational determinations on the parameters of the buffer zone. Such a message, if delivered by the command structures of the military on both sides to their rank and file, would help to reduce misunderstandings on the ground, thereby enhancing the security of UNFICYP soldiers.

35.     The increase in civilian construction in the buffer zone may be a consequence of greater confidence in the security situation. While that would constitute a positive development as an indicator of normalization of conditions, the ability of UNFICYP to ensure security will be steadily eroded by continued construction, without UNFICYP approval, of residential and commercial facilities outside areas designated for civilian use. It is hoped that both sides will extend their cooperation to UNFICYP in that regard.

36.     It is clear that an early completion of the work of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus and a solution to the issue of the missing persons would greatly contribute to reconciliation on the island. The appointment of the third member affords an opportunity to all concerned to redouble their efforts and put aside political considerations, in order to close this painful humanitarian chapter. I would urge the donor community to contribute to that effort.

37.     I note with satisfaction the progress in demining efforts in the buffer zone. I appeal to the international community to lend its full support to the successful completion of the demining efforts in the Nicosia area, in the whole of the buffer zone and ultimately the whole of the island.

38.     Over the past six months UNFICYP has continued to build on the advantages of the force structure adopted early in 2005 and to steadily improve coordination among its civilian, military and police components under the new concept of operations. I intend to continue to keep the operations of UNFICYP under review, with the aim of making recommendations for possible further adjustments at the appropriate time, taking into account conditions on the ground and progress at the political level.

39.     I continue to believe that only the achievement of a comprehensive settlement will bring an end to the Cyprus problem. In the absence of such a comprehensive settlement, the presence of UNFICYP on the island continues to be necessary. I therefore recommend that the Security Council extend the mandate of the Force for a further period of six months, until 15 December 2006.

40.     At this juncture, it is important for the parties to resume contacts and to begin to think about how to re-engage in the search for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem. I continue to believe that there is a need to match words with action. To that end, my Special Representative has engaged in a process aimed at encouraging renewed contacts. As already indicated, I intend to dispatch the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs to Cyprus, Greece and Turkey in the near future to assess the political situation in and around Cyprus and the prospects for a full resumption of my good offices. My Special Representative will continue to function as a high-level point of contact on the ground for the two sides.

41.     In conclusion, I wish to express my thanks to Zbigniew Wlosowicz for his dedicated service over five years as Chief of Mission of UNFICYP and to Major General Figoli for his command of the Force. I also extend my appreciation to Michael Møller and Major General Rafael Barni, and to the men and women serving in UNFICYP, for the efficiency and dedication with which they have discharged the responsibilities entrusted to them by the Security Council.

 

Annex

 

                     Countries providing military and civilian police personnel
as at 15 May 2006

 

Country

Military personnel

Civilian police

Argentinaa

295

4

Australia

15

Austria

4

Bosnia and Herzegovina

4

Canada

1

Croatia

2

El Salvador

8

Hungary

84

India

7

Italy

4

Ireland

18

Netherlands

7

Slovakiab

200

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

275

      Total

859

69

 

a  The Argentinean contingent includes soldiers from Brazil (1), Chile (15), Paraguay (15) and Peru (14).

b  The Slovakian contingent includes soldiers from Croatia (4).

 

 —————————————————————-

S/2005/743/Corr.1 – Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations operation in Cyprus

United Nations

S/2005/743/Corr.1

  Security Council Distr.: General

8 December 2005

Original: English

 


REPORT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON THE UNITED NATIONS
OPERATION IN CYPRUS

Corrigendum

Paragraphs 26-28

 

For the existing text, substitute

26.      In the course of the reporting period, the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus held 20 meetings leading to progress on a number of issues. On
30 June, the Committee reached an agreement in principle on a common programme of exhumations and identification scheduled to begin during the spring of 2006. Another agreement was reached in September on the establishment in the buffer zone of an anthropological laboratory, where the remains collected on both sides will be stored. Once completed, the laboratory will be staffed by the Inforce Foundation Centre for Forensic Science Technology and Law, an agency based in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. On 11 November, the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus announced that should the preparations run as expected, the programme of exhumations and identification would begin during the spring of 2006. The project — which should be financed by voluntary contributions in order to meet all costs — is expected to last three or four years. It will be carried out under the aegis of the Committee, while the funds will be administered by the United Nations Development Programme. Expenses have so far been covered by funds provided by Greek Cypriots, Greece and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

27.      For the programme of identification by DNA, the Committee will benefit from the cooperation of a department of the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics. It has been agreed that the institute will be reinforced with the participation of two Turkish Cypriot scientists. Furthermore, a Turkish Cypriot laboratory is in the process of being upgraded for the programme of exhumations and identification. In July, the Committee appointed two scientific advisers, a Greek Cypriot scientist and a Turkish Cypriot scientist, to help with the implementation of the programme of identification by DNA of missing persons of both communities.

28.      For about six weeks in the summer, the Committee undertook an emergency programme of exhumations in the north, under the supervision of an Inforce forensic expert, with positive results. Meanwhile, on 21 November, the Turkish Government pledged a financial contribution to the work of the Committee.

 

—————————————————————-

 

S/2005/743 – Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations operation in Cyprus

United Nations

S/2005/743

  Security Council Distr.: General

29 November 2005

Original: English

 


REPORT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON THE UNITED NATIONS
OPERATION IN CYPRUS

I. Introduction

1. The present report on the United Nations operation in Cyprus covers developments from 21 May to 24 November 2005 and brings up to date the record of activities carried out by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) pursuant to Security Council resolution 186 (1964) and subsequent Council resolutions, most recently resolution 1604 (2005).

2. UNFICYP continued to be led by my Special Representative and Chief of Mission , Zbigniew Wlosowicz, assisted by the Force Commander, Major-General Hebert Figoli ( Uruguay ). As at 15 November, the strength of the military component stood at 841 all ranks, and the strength of the police component stood at 69 (see annex).

 

II. Good offices mission

 

3. During the reporting period, there was no substantial change in the position of the two sides on my mission of good offices. From 16 to 20 May, Kieran Prendergast, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs at that time, held a week of preliminary informal discussions in New York with a Greek Cypriot delegation to explore the possibility of resuming negotiations. Subsequently, at my request, between 30 May and 7 June, Mr. Prendergast undertook consultations in Cyprus , Greece and Turkey to seek their respective views on the role of the United Nations in the current circumstances.

4. Mr. Prendergast presented a detailed briefing on his consultations and findings to the Security Council on 22 June (see SC/8422). He also conveyed my view that, mindful of my responsibilities, I remained committed to assisting the parties in achieving a settlement since, as a general proposition, my good offices ought to be available to the parties requesting them. Moreover, the persistence of the status quo on the island was unacceptable, as the Council has made clear on many occasions. At the same time, I felt that launching a new process prematurely would be inadvisable and I hoped that the Council would agree that nothing positive would be achieved by a new effort that would end, as previous efforts had done, in failure or stalemate.

5. As things stood, I believed that it would be prudent to proceed very carefully and I intended to reflect on the future of my mission of good offices in the period ahead, taking full account of the reaction of the Council to Mr. Prendergast’s briefing as well as developments on the ground, and, in particular, any evolution in the position of the parties.

6. Depending on the evolution of the situation and the attitudes on the island, Mr. Prendergast noted in his briefing to the Council that it might become appropriate for me to consider appointing a Special Adviser, on a when-actually-employed basis, who would engage the parties in exploring whether the necessary common ground existed or could be established to enable full-scale negotiations to resume.

7. Within the framework of my good offices, I met with the Greek Cypriot leader, Tassos Papadopoulos, on 16 September and with the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, on 31 October. Mr. Papadopoulos asked me to continue my good offices mission and to consider holding a new round of talks. He concurred that, for the next round of talks to resume, it must be well prepared. Mr. Talat also urged me to resume negotiations in the shortest time possible. Similar calls were made by Greece and Turkey , a number of other Member States and other interested parties. In addition, Mr. Talat raised the issue of ending the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, a matter which had already been addressed in my report of May 2004 (S/2004/437).

 

III. Activities of the Force

 

A. Prevention of a recurrence of fighting and maintenance of the military status quo

 

8. The military situation along the ceasefire lines remained generally calm and stable. Overall, the opposing forces showed cooperation and exercised restraint. Since the implementation of the new concept of operations of UNFICYP in February 2005, the number of incidents had gradually declined and most were minor in nature. The Force recorded 341 incidents between May and September this year as compared with 440 for the same period in 2004. The number of air violations decreased from 30 in the last reporting period to 25; one by a Turkish military aircraft, one by a Cyprus Police helicopter and the remaining 23 of unknown or civilian origin.

9. There were, however, four incidents of significant concern: an incursion into the buffer zone by Turkish Forces in the Louroujina Pocket involving a threat to the Force Commander and other UNFICYP military personnel; the placement of a series of buoys by Turkish Forces close to the western maritime security line; the entry into the buffer zone and the removal of a Turkish flag from a Turkish Cypriot observation post by a Greek Cypriot civilian; and shots fired at UNFICYP personnel by a Greek Cypriot hunter. For the first time since 2001, the National Guard conducted its “Nikiforos” military exercise, and subsequently, the Turkish Forces/Turkish Cypriot security forces held their “Toros” military exercise on 23 November.

10. The events in Louroujina began in mid-August when Turkish Forces placed construction materials inside the buffer zone. The materials were moved following a protest by UNFICYP, but the Turkish Forces then proceeded to construct a new checkpoint immediately adjacent to the buffer zone. This violation of the status quo was again protested by UNFICYP. On 31 August, a United Nations patrol encountered a company-size Turkish Forces patrol inside the buffer zone in the same area and asked them to leave. The UNFICYP Force Commander came to the site and, upon his arrival, Turkish soldiers cocked and pointed their weapons at him and other UNFICYP personnel. Ultimately, agreement was reached to freeze all activity in the area until the Force Commander and the Commander of the Turkish Forces could meet. Turkish Forces nevertheless placed a sign inside the buffer zone and proceeded with the construction of the checkpoint. After further negotiation, the Turkish Forces removed the sign and agreed to honour the ceasefire line. However, the checkpoint was not dismantled. The situation in Louroujina remained static until 1 November, when a Greek Cypriot civilian entered the buffer zone and removed a Turkish flag from the same checkpoint. This action was strongly protested by the Turkish Cypriot side, and Greek Cypriot officials immediately disavowed it. The Turkish Forces responded to the incident by instituting regular manning of the checkpoint, which remains in place to date.

11. The placement of buoys by Turkish Forces close to the western maritime security line has not been resolved. UNFICYP requested on several occasions that the buoys be removed and stated that if they were left in place, they would constitute a change to the status quo and a permanent violation. The Turkish Forces asserted that the buoys do not mark the maritime security line but are in place to indicate to maritime vessels that they are approaching disputed waters.

12. On 21 November, several shots were fired at an UNFICYP patrol inside the buffer zone by a Greek Cypriot hunter when he was asked to produce his hunting licence. While the vehicle used by the UNFICYP troops was seriously damaged, the soldiers escaped unharmed. The individual was later arrested by the Cyprus Police and charged with attempted murder.

13. The clearing of mines in the buffer zone continued during the reporting period. On 5 August, UNFICYP secured an agreement to begin the clearing of Turkish Forces minefields in Nicosia and surrounding areas within the buffer zone. Since May, on the whole, 78,132 square metres over nine minefields were cleared, and more than 470 anti-personnel and 430 anti-tank mines were removed and destroyed.

14. The lifting of the restrictions of movement of UNFICYP personnel (see S/2005/353, para. 15) in the north in May 2005 enabled the Force to effectively restore operations in areas previously restricted. Movements of UNFICYP personnel were, however, still limited in areas close to military bases in the north. The United Nations continued to hold the Government of Turkey responsible for the maintenance of the status quo in Varosha. In response to reports of improper use of a beach area in Varosha for tourism, the Turkish Forces asserted that the number of authorized visitors had increased but that there had been no change in the status quo. UNFICYP was unable to verify the situation because of the established restrictions on the Force in that area. The Turkish Forces/Turkish Cypriot security forces remain in violation of the military status quo in Strovilia.

15. Since the introduction by UNFICYP of the military observer and liaison officer teams, both opposing forces have been cooperating constructively with them. Although the concept is still new and has not yet reached its full potential, the experiences of the teams have been largely positive, with improvements in the sharing of information and the speedy resolution of incidents. The introduction of the teams continues to contribute to an increased emphasis on liaison, observation and mediation rather than the interposition of forces, for which UNFICYP still retains a capability. In addition, the Force has increased the number and duration of its air patrols and has also procured night vision equipment to improve its surveillance of the buffer zone. That method of observing the buffer zone, in conjunction with the new patrolling concept, has increased the monitoring capacity of UNFICYP as compared to observation from static locations.

 

B. Restoration of normal conditions and humanitarian functions

 

16. UNFICYP continued to promote confidence-building activities involving both sides and in general received cooperation from them. In August, UNFICYP mediated and enabled the opening of the Astromeritis/Bostanci crossing point under temporary arrangements agreed between the two sides. Those arrangements are to remain in place pending the completion of the road construction project within the buffer zone funded by the European Union. In August, the European Union amended the Green Line Regulation to include a provision for three more possible crossing points in Kato Pyrgos — Karavostasi, Kato Pyrgos-Kokkina and Kokkina-Pachyammos.

17. The movement of people and trade across the buffer zone continued with approximately 9 million crossings of Greek Cypriots to the north and Turkish Cypriots to the south since the opening of the crossing points in early 2003. Goods worth about 1 million Cyprus pounds (about $2 million) crossed the Green Line from the north to the south, and 127,000 Cyprus pounds (approximately $250,000) worth of goods crossed from the south to the north during the same period.

18. UNFICYP continued to carry out its mandated humanitarian tasks in support of the 397 Greek Cypriots and 146 Maronites living in the northern part of the island. During the reporting period, UNFICYP police and military components conducted 62 humanitarian convoys, money runs and humanitarian visits to those communities. In September, the Turkish Cypriots agreed to allow the Greek Cypriot secondary school to function in all six grades in Rizokarpaso in the north, and UNFICYP assisted in the delivery of textbooks for the Greek Cypriot primary and secondary schools. UNFICYP also facilitated the appointment of seven teachers at the secondary level and continues to negotiate the appointment of one additional teacher at that level. In addition, the Force assisted in securing a supply of water for the Maronite community living in Kormakitis.

19. UNFICYP supported civilian projects in the buffer zone, in particular farming activities and infrastructure improvements. Over the past six months, the Force has noted an increase in unauthorized civilian construction by Greek Cypriots outside designated civil use areas, primarily in Sector 4.

20. In March, UNFICYP received a written commitment from the Greek Cypriot side that a Turkish elementary school would be established in Limassol for the Turkish Cypriot community, and UNFICYP continues to discuss with the relevant authorities the modalities for implementing that commitment. Meanwhile, the Greek Cypriot side adopted special measures aimed at upgrading the provision of primary education for that community by hiring four Turkish Cypriot teachers to provide instruction in the language, culture and arts and crafts of Turkey . In addition, UNFICYP assisted Turkish Cypriots in the south in obtaining identity documents, housing, welfare services, medical care, employment and education.

21. Although the opening of the crossing points enabled the movement of people across the buffer zone, the support of UNFICYP and the neutral venue of the Ledra Palace continued to be viewed as essential by both sides for the mediation of sensitive issues. During the reporting period, UNFICYP facilitated 52 bi-communal meetings in which about 2,000 people from both sides of the buffer zone participated. Regular monthly meetings between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political party leaders continued to be held at the Ledra Palace under the auspices of the Embassy of Slovakia.

22. In the mixed village of Pyla in the buffer zone, UNFICYP obtained agreement from the village’s Turkish and Greek football clubs to play against each other in two exhibition matches. They were the first joint football games since 1968. The matches were held in July and October in the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot stadiums, respectively. In October, UNFICYP also arranged the first meeting of the principals of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot primary schools in Pyla to discuss areas for common action.

23. UNFICYP facilitated the observance of a number of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot religious events on both sides of the island over the course of the summer. On 10 and 11 June, the military and police components of the mission assisted 1,000 Greek Cypriots to make a pilgrimage to the Church of Saint Barnabas near Famagusta for the first time in 31 years. On 1 and 2 September, UNFICYP facilitated the visit of over 900 Greek Cypriots to the St. Mamas Church in Morphou and provided assistance to 330 Turkish Cypriots to make a pilgrimage to Kokkina in the western part of Cyprus .

24. By the end of October, the overall staffing of the UNFICYP police had reached its mandated strength of 69, which allowed the police component to introduce shift work, thus providing increased patrolling. By 1 September, UNFICYP police had already taken over the role of the sector civil affairs team from the military component. UNFICYP police also started manning the military post at Leonarisso, which provides assistance to Greek Cypriots living in the Karpas region.

25. With the increase in staffing, the UNFICYP police were able to increase their contacts with both sides. UNFICYP police and civil affairs officers monitored and followed up on approximately 100 cases of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots involved in criminal court proceedings, including traffic violations and accidents, burglary, assault, illegal possession of firearms and drug trafficking on both sides of the buffer zone. In total, 11 Greek Cypriots in the north and seven Turkish Cypriots in the south were arrested during the reporting period. There are no Greek Cypriots currently serving sentences in the north, and 24 Turkish Cypriots are serving sentences in the south. UNFICYP police officers visited Turkish Cypriots detained in the south and Greek Cypriots detained in the north and monitored proceedings and trials. UNFICYP continued to assist in medical evacuations from the north to the south and in transporting the remains of deceased persons. In addition, the number of tasks of the UNFICYP police increased with the opening of the Astromeritis/Bostanci crossing, where they patrol the two km of road running through the buffer zone.

 

IV. Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus

 

26. In the course of the reporting period, the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus held 20 meetings leading to progress on a number of issues. On 30 June, the Committee reached an agreement in principle on a common programme of exhumations and identification scheduled to begin during the spring of 2006. Another agreement was reached in September on the establishment in the buffer zone of an anthropological laboratory, where the remains collected on both sides will be stored. Once completed, the laboratory will be staffed by the Inforce Foundation Centre for Forensic Science Technology and Law, an agency based in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. On 11 November, the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus announced that should the preparations run as expected, the programme of exhumations and identification would begin during the spring of 2006. The project — which should be financed by voluntary contributions in order to meet all costs — is expected to last three or four years. It will be carried out under the aegis of the Committee, while the funds will be administered by the United Nations Development Programme.

27. For the programme of identification by DNA, the Committee will benefit from the cooperation of a department of the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics. It has been agreed that the institute will be reinforced with the participation of two Turkish Cypriot scientists. Furthermore, a Turkish Cypriot laboratory is in the process of being upgraded for the programme of exhumations and identification. In July, the Committee appointed two scientific advisers, a Greek Cypriot scientist and a Turkish Cypriot scientist, to help with the implementation of the programme of identification by DNA of missing persons of both communities.

28. For about six weeks in the summer, the Committee undertook an emergency programme of exhumations in the north, under the supervision of an Inforce forensic expert, with positive results. Expenses have so far been covered by funds provided by Greek Cypriots, Greece and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, on 21 November, the Turkish Government pledged a financial contribution to the work of the Committee.

29. In spite of those positive developments in the implementation of the July 1997 Agreement, the Committee has been unable to begin its investigative work. This is a cause for concern as it is an essential step towards progress in the resolution of the humanitarian question of the missing persons and the fulfilment of the mandate of the Committee as set out almost 25 years ago. In order to allow the Committee to accelerate and conclude its work without further delay, it is my intention to appoint a third member as of January 2006 to be assisted by a full team.

 

V. Financial aspects

 

30. The General Assembly, in its resolution 59/284 B of 22 June 2005, appropriated for UNFICYP the amount of $46.5 million gross ($44.1 million net). In this regard, I am grateful for the voluntary contribution of one third of the cost of the Force, equivalent to $14.7 million, from the Government of Cyprus and the voluntary contribution of $6.5 million from the Government of Greece. Other countries and organizations might wish to do likewise, in order to lower the portion of the cost of UNFICYP covered by assessed contributions.

31. Financial resources approved by the General Assembly for the 2005/06 period provide for the maintenance of the Force at its currently authorized military strength of 860 (all ranks). Should the Security Council decide to extend the mandate of UNFICYP for a further period of six months, the cost of maintaining the Force would be limited to the amount approved by the General Assembly.

32. As at 31 October 2005, the total outstanding assessed contributions to the special account for UNFICYP for the period from 16 June 1993 to 15 December 2005 amounted to $19.9 million. The total outstanding assessed contributions for all peacekeeping operations as at the same date amounted to $2,217 million.

 

VI. Observations

 

33. The situation in Cyprus has remained stable, with calm prevailing along the ceasefire lines. The opening of additional crossing points and small increases in trade between the two sides enhanced the opportunity for people-to-people contact, yet progress towards a political solution has been negligible at best. UNFICYP continued to enjoy generally good cooperation from both sides, but at the same time each side made attempts to alter the status quo to its advantage, whether in the form of new construction or incursions of personnel into the buffer zone.

34. The experience gained during the reporting period indicates that the new force structure of UNFICYP is adequate for the implementation of the mandate and that the reconfiguration of the Force has not led to deterioration in the overall security situation. However, due to delays in achieving the full staffing levels for the UNFICYP civil affairs component and the civilian police, the restructured Force has not reached the full potential of its revised concept of operations. Under the circumstances, and in light of the lack of significant positive developments on the ground, it would be premature to suggest further adjustments to the Force at this stage. I intend to keep the operations of UNFICYP under close scrutiny, with a view to offering recommendations for possible further adjustments as soon as warranted.

35. It is clear that an early completion of the work of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus and a solution to the issue of missing persons would greatly contribute to reconciliation on the island. I would therefore urge all concerned to redouble their efforts and put aside political considerations in order to close this painful humanitarian chapter and to end the suffering of the relatives of missing persons.

36. I continue to believe that only the achievement of a comprehensive settlement will bring an end to the Cyprus problem. In the absence of such a comprehensive settlement, the presence of UNFICYP on the island continues to be necessary. I therefore recommend that the Security Council extend the mandate of the Force for a further period of six months, until 15 June 2006.

37. Again, I do not believe that the time is ripe to appoint a full-time person dedicated to my good offices. While calls have come from all concerned for the resumption of negotiations, it appears that the conditions surrounding such a resumption necessitate further clarifications. In the circumstances, the Chief of Mission will continue to act as my Special Representative on the ground for contacts at the highest level with the two sides and other key actors on the Cyprus question. I may continue, however, to dispatch, on an ad hoc basis, a senior official from the Secretariat to visit Cyprus , Greece and Turkey to assess the situation on the ground in the light of recent developments.

38. In conclusion, I wish to express my appreciation to Zbigniew Wlosowicz, my Special Representative and Chief of Mission in Cyprus, the Force Commander, Major-General Figoli, and to the men and women serving in UNFICYP for the efficiency and dedication with which they have discharged the responsibilities entrusted to them by the Security Council.


Annex

Countries providing military and civilian police
personnel (as at 15 November 2005)

 

 

Country

Military personnel

Argentina a

294

Austria

4

Canada

1

Hungary

82

Slovakia b

198

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

262

Total

841

 

a The Argentinean contingent includes soldiers from Brazil (1), Chile (15), Paraguay (14) and Peru (13).

b The Slovakian contingent includes soldiers from Croatia (2).

 

 

 

Civilian police

Argentina

4

Australia

15

Bosnia

4

Croatia

2

El Salvador

8

India

6

Italy

4

Ireland

18

Netherlands

8

Total

69

—————————————————————-

 

Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations operation in Cyprus (S/2005/353)

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Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations operation in Cyprus (S/2004/756)

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