November 23, 2017

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Andreas D. Mavroyiannis at the Debate in the First Committee on Confidence Building Measures

Mr. Chairman,

As this is the first time my delegation takes the floor, allow me to congratulate you on the able manner in which you have conducted the Chairmanship of the First Committee thus far and assure you of our full support and co-operation in steering the remainder of the work of this Committee.

The Dutch Presidency of the European Union has already delivered a statement on this item. I would like to take this opportunity, however, to bring to your attention certain developments, which are of particular importance to my delegation, with regard to initiatives of my Government over the past year in the field of confidence building.

In the year that has followed the ratification of the Ottawa Convention by the Republic of Cyprus, my Government has proceeded with implementing its commitments under the said Convention. In December 2003 alone, 4000 stockpiled anti-personnel mines were destroyed, in accordance with the provisions of the Ottawa Convention.

It is not only the endeavour of fully complying with the Ottawa Convention that operates as the driving force behind my Government’s abovementioned actions. As a matter of principle and priority, our aim is to avail ourselves of the broader horizons this Convention opens up, in the direction of further promoting confidence building measures, despite the continuing occupation of a significant part of Cyprus’ territory.

Utilising the extensive possibilities offered by such developments and with a view to defusing the situation on the ground and minimising its potentially explosive character, the Cyprus Government has proceeded with extending the so far unilateral de-mining process it initiated exactly one year ago. Furthermore, and in the context of confidence building, we have recently proposed the withdrawal of military forces from sensitive areas and the abstention from military exercises therein.

The Republic of Cyprus has also put forward to the United Nations Peace-Keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) a proposal for clearing all minefields within the buffer zone, both those of the National Guard of the Republic of Cyprus as well as those of the Turkish forces. While a positive response from the other side is still pending, the Government of Cyprus has indicated its willingness to proceed unilaterally with the clearing of National Guard minefields within the buffer zone, in co-operation with UNFICYP. To this end, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has already conducted an on-site investigation of the minefields within the Buffer Zone and has prepared a technical mission report outlining the practical steps required for the actual de-mining process.

Moreover, and in accordance with an Agreement concluded between the Government of Cyprus and UNFICYP last June, UNFICYP has begun setting up the necessary infrastructure for the implementation of the aforementioned project. The National Guard of the Republic of Cyprus has already established a specialised unit known as the “Mine Action Centre” which will provide technical assistance during the de-mining process.

The project for de-mining the Buffer Zone, which is expected to begin in the next few months, will be mainly financed by the European Union, which has already allocated the amount of 2.5 million Euros for the initiation of the project.

We will continue assessing and considering the possibilities we have and will be ready to implement further steps in that direction. We hope that Cyprus will prove to be a successful case study, epitomising the value of confidence building measures and their wider implications, which transcend the boundaries of practical disarmament measures, and have the potential to alter the parameters of conflict situations.

We firmly believe that confidence building is an important factor in fostering the conditions for facilitating political processes, towards settlement of disputes.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.