November 23, 2017

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Andreas D. Mavroyiannis to the Fourth Committee of the 59th Session of the General Assembly, on Agenda Item 77: “Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects”

Mr. Chairman,

As this is the first time my delegation takes the floor, please allow me to congratulate you and the members of the bureau on your election for the important task of chairing this committee during this session. May I also take this opportunity to thank Mr. Jean-Marie Guehenno, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, for his comprehensive presentation on the vital issue of UN peacekeeping operations.

My delegation aligns itself fully with the statement delivered earlier by the Netherlands on behalf of the European Union, and would like to make some additional remarks from a national perspective and specifically in relation to the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Cyprus.

Last Friday, in unanimously adopting resolution 1568 (2004), the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus for a further six-month period and endorsed the recommendations of the Secretary-General contained in his report S/2004/756 of 24 September 2004 for the amendment of the concept of operations and the reduction of the Force by about 30 per cent to an overall strength of 860 military personnel.

It should be noted that immediately after the publication of the Secretary-General’s report, the Government of the Republic of Cyprus welcomed the relevant proposals for the readjustment of the concept of operations and force levels of UNFICYP. In fact these proposals were based on the results of a professional, objective and in-depth assessment of the situation by the competent services of the DPKO, which took into consideration the developments on the ground and the evolving role of the various components of the Force over the past 12 years since the mission underwent its last review. Furthermore, it was noted that the aim of these proposals was the achievement of a more efficient and rationalized utilization of human and financial resources. In our opinion the proposed new concept of operations, which is so aptly titled by the DPKO as “concentration with mobility”, encompasses many of the issues raised here during the discussion of agenda item 77 and address them in a satisfactory manner.

In welcoming the proposed new concept of operations of UNFICYP, my Government stated that it fully understood that rationalization in the usage of available resources, in combination with a better implementation of technology, was of paramount importance in a time where resources for peacekeeping operations were under strain as demand for UN peacekeeping had risen significantly in recent years. My Government also took into account the Secretary-General’s assessment that the operational risk implied by this adjustment was low, as well as his evaluation that the mandate of UNFICYP “had proven to be broad and flexible enough for the force to adjust its tasks in response to changes on the ground, particularly in the aftermath of the events of 1974”.

It should be noted that the adverse results and repercussions of the “events of 1974”, both in terms of the continuous threat they represent for international peace and security, and in relation to the persistent violation of the most basic human rights of the people of Cyprus, remain unquestionably unchanged, regardless of the positive impact of the partial lifting of restrictions of movement through the Green Line since April 2003, and the huge potential for further improvement of the general climate, provided by the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the European Union since the 1st of May 2004.

In fact and as correctly stated by the Secretary-General in his report, “the number of Turkish troops on the island as well as the nature of their equipment remains at the same level as before”. Furthermore, the Secretary-General states in his report that the violation of the military status quo in Strovilia persists and that the restrictions of movement imposed in July 2000 by the Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot forces continue to hinder the operation of UNFICYP.

For as long as this anomalous situation persists, the potential risk to security remains unchanged and renders necessary the continuation of the mandate of the UN peacekeeping operation in Cyprus. We take note of the assessment of the Secretary-General that the security situation on the island has become increasingly benign, but we also have to keep in mind that it is of the utmost importance to safeguard and sustain this improved climate, which is necessary for the successful outcome of any future effort for the solution of the Cyprus problem. The role of UNFICYP in achieving this goal is particularly important and the success of this Force, as of any other peacekeeping operation for that matter, can only be measured by its contribution to making its “raison d’ etre” void.

As it was stated here yesterday by the Netherlands, on behalf of the EU, “planning and implementation of peace-building activities is integral to the success of a peacekeeping operation”. We firmly believe that in the current circumstance and under its new concept of operations, UNFICYP will be focusing, in a more efficient and rationalized way, on both aspects of its mandated tasks, namely peacekeeping and peace-building. Among others, it will be serving as the prime UN interlocutor with both sides on the island and ensuring continuing contact at all levels. We expect that in the coming months, the Force will be fully engaged in a de-mining exercise in the buffer zone, following my Government’s proposal to that effect. It will also be working to encourage all initiatives that contribute to reconciliation and normalization and create an environment which is conducive to the restart of the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem. To that effect, the promotion and implementation of confidence building measures is of primordial importance.

In concluding, I would like to reiterate that the comprehensive review of UNFICYP conducted by the competent services of the DPKO constitutes an excellent example of the professionalism of this department and a demonstration of its sense of responsibility. I would therefore like to seize this opportunity to express the sincere thanks of my Government to all the members of the department and of the civilian, police and military components of UNFICYP, whose dedication and contribution to peace and security are fully appreciated.

I would also like to thank each and every one of the countries providing military and civilian police personnel to UNFICYP, namely the United Kingdom, Argentina, Slovakia, Hungary, Chile, Paraguay, Ireland, Australia, Austria, India, the Netherlands, Finland, Uruguay, Bolivia, Brazil and Peru.

Thank you Mr. Chairman