November 23, 2017

Statement by H.E. Mr. Andreas Mavroyiannis Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Cyprus to the Fourth Committee on Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Chairman,

As this is the first time my delegation takes the floor, please allow me to congratulate you on your well-deserved election, and wish you every success in steering the work of the Committee. I also wish to express my appreciation to the Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Jean-Marie Guehenno, for his excellent and comprehensive report.

Cyprus has fully aligned itself with the statement delivered earlier by the Italian representative on behalf of the European Union. However, Cyprus being the host country to the longest running peace-keeping operation in the world today, the United Nations Force in Cyprus – UNFICYP, I would like to elaborate further on the importance of peace keeping, especially in the absence of any significant outcome from parallel peacemaking efforts.

I would firstly like to strongly support the emphasis and high significance attached by the European Union to the element of the Rule of Law and to the need to include consistent principles in mission mandates, and also stress the great importance we attribute to the safety and security of United Nations and associated personnel in peacekeeping operations.

Established under Resolution 186, which was adopted on 4 March 1964, UNFICYP was created, with the consent of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, “in the interest of preserving international peace and security, to use its best efforts to prevent a recurrence of fighting and, as necessary, to contribute to the maintenance and restoration of law and order and a return to normal conditions”. UNFICYP was inevitably forced to adjust its mandate in 1974 as a result of the Turkish invasion and subsequent occupation of 37% of Cypriot territory. The 35,000 Turkish occupation troops stationed in this 3,500 sq. km of land in order to enforce military partition, make the northern part of Cyprus the most militarised area in the world today, according to the United Nations’ Secretary General reports.

The Government of Cyprus is grateful to the UN, UNFICYP and its personnel, and the contributing countries for the work done by this peacekeeping operation in Cyprus , throughout the years and in their wide spectrum of activities, including easing the day-to-day life of the enclaved, facilitating contacts and resolving humanitarian issues.

Mr. Chairman,

The partial lifting of restrictions of movement by the occupying power, earlier this year, across the buffer zone, has demonstrated the lack of any truth in the anachronistic argument of Turkey and its subordinate local administration, and in particular its head, Mr. Denktash, that the two Communities are unable to live together harmoniously, and it has proven beyond any doubt that only a political settlement stands in the way of achieving peaceful living conditions between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

Even though such a measure is not substitute for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem, the complete lack of friction between Greek and Turkish Cypriots since the above measure was implemented, undoubtedly proves that the element which has made this line so resilient for so long, is the intransigence of the Turkish Cypriot leadership and the Turkish Government.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Greek Cypriot side, appreciating the value of easing movement restrictions in the efforts to bring the two Communities closer has proposed, through UNFICYP, an increase in the number of locations along the buffer zone which can serve as crossing points, an initiative that has yet to find a response from the Turkish Cypriot leadership.

Since April 2003, the Cyprus Government has announced and is implementing a set of measures aimed at improving the living conditions of the Turkish Cypriots and making available to them benefits, all Cypriots are entitled to, and which they are currently deprived, due to the separatist policies pursued by their leadership. The European Commission has also been processing a set of measures aiming towards the economic advancement of the Turkish Cypriot Community.

In the framework of the positive climate created by such measures, and in conformity with the constructive stance the Greek Cypriot side has maintained throughout the many attempts to reach a settlement, President Papadopoulos has announced, from the podium of the General Assembly, the intention of the Cyprus Government to unilaterally start within the next two months, mine clearance in the buffer zone, in cooperation with the UN and with the financial assistance of the European Union. We will also proceed with the destruction of a considerable amount of stockpiled anti-personnel mines within the framework of our obligations under the Ottawa Convention.

Ignoring the positive impetus prevalent, the Turkish Cypriot leadership has not only failed to display the analogous political will and wisdom, which is a prerequisite for a breakthrough, but has hindered the attempts of the UN with additional provocation. The ongoing advancing of the positions of the Turkish occupation army along the ceasefire line in the area of Strovilia, constitute a clear violation of the status quo. However, more than three years since these actions began the issue remains unsolved, indicating that UNFICYP is not, in this case, instrumental in executing its mandate by safeguarding the status quo. The lack of tangible results in the attempts to resolve the above crisis has once again illustrated the need to reinforce the role of UNFICYP and make its capacity consistent with its mandate and responsibilities.

Mr. Chairman,

The sheer amount of resources consumed on sustaining this particular peace keeping operation could be proportional to the seriousness of the Cyprus problem, but we have to be conscious of the fact that the main raison d’être of UNFICYP today is the negative attitude of the Turkish side, which persists in pursuing their “no solution” policy and the consolidation of faits accomplis.

Had the response of the Turkish Cypriot leadership on the political level matched the overwhelming desire of the Turkish Cypriots themselves to accomplish a settlement, Cyprus would be now marching towards EU membership as a united country, guided by anticipation for the future and not haunted by the demons of the past.

The contribution on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus, of one third of the UNFICYP budget, is indicative of our commitment to sustain its unhindered functioning so long as peace is absent in Cyprus. However, we would like to reiterate to the TC leadership and Ankara that a just and viable solution in accordance with UN Resolutions, International Law and the Acquis Communautaire has been delayed far too long and should be addressed both as a matter of urgency and a matter of principle. Such a development, combined with our demilitarisation proposals, would constitute solid foundation on which to heal the scars of the past, achieve common prosperity, and build a stable and peaceful Eastern Mediterranean Region within the wider European family.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.