The Security Council this morning extended the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) until 15 December, noting the Government of Cyprus had agreed that its continued presence was necessary, in view of the prevailing conditions on the island.
Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1486 (2003), the Council endorsed the increase of UNFICYP’s civilian police component by no more than 34 officers, in order to met the increased workload resulting from the welcome partial easing of restrictions on island-wide freedom of movement. The Council noted the limited steps taken by the Turkish Cypriot side to ease some of the restrictions imposed on 30 June 2000 on the operation of the Force, but urged the Turkish Cypriot side and the Turkish forces to rescind all remaining restrictions.
At the same time, the Council expressed concern at the recent, further violations by the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkish forces at Strovilia and urged them to restore the military status quo that existed there prior to 30 June 2000 .
Prior to action on the text, Security Council President Sergey Lavrov ( Russian Federation ) informed the Council that he had met with the representatives of the parties, who had confirmed to him that they maintained their well-known positions vis-à-vis the item on the Council’s agenda. On the basis of those meetings, he had concluded that the Council could proceed to take a decision.
The Force on Cyprus was established through Council resolution 186 in 1964, with the mandate to prevent a recurrence of fighting between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, and to contribute to the maintenance and restoration of law and order. Following the hostilities of 1974, the Council expanded the mandate to include maintaining a buffer zone between forces. In the absence of a political settlement, UNFICYP has been extended thereafter every six months.
The meeting began at 10:29 a.m. and adjourned at 10:31 a.m.
The full text of resolution 1486 (2003) reads, as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General of 27 May 2003 (S/2003/572) on the United Nations operation in Cyprus, and in particular the call to the parties to assess and address the humanitarian issue of missing persons with due urgency and seriousness,
“Noting that the Government of Cyprus has agreed that in view of the prevailing conditions in the island it is necessary to keep the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) beyond 15 June 2003 ,
“Welcoming and encouraging efforts by the United Nations to sensitize peacekeeping personnel in the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases in all its peacekeeping operations,
“1.Reaffirms all its relevant resolutions on Cyprus , and in particular resolution 1251 (1999) of 29 June 1999 and subsequent resolutions;
“2.Decides to extend the mandate of UNFICYP for a further period ending 15 December 2003 ;
“3. Endorses the increase of the UNFICYP civilian police component by no more than 34 officers in order to meet the increased workload resulting from the welcome partial easing of restrictions on island-wide freedom of movement, which has been met by goodwill from Greek and Turkish Cypriots;
“4. Notes the limited steps taken by the Turkish Cypriot side to ease some of the restrictions imposed on 30 June 2000 on the operation of UNFICYP, but urges the Turkish Cypriot side and the Turkish forces to rescind all remaining restrictions on UNFICYP;
“5. Expresses concern at the recent, further violations by the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkish forces at Strovilia and urges them to restore the military status quo which existed there prior to 30 June 2000 ;
“6. Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report by 1 December 2003 on the implementation of this resolution;
“7. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”
When the Security Council met, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations operation in Cyprus (document S/2003/572) in which he recommends extension of the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) until 15 December and an augmentation of the UNFICYP civilian police component by up to 34 officers. The report covers the period 16 November 2002 to 20 May 2003 .
The augmentation of the civilian police component (UNCIVPOL) is necessary, according to the Secretary-General, because as of 23 April several crossing points were opened by the Turkish Cypriot authorities for visits in both directions, resulting in an average number of crossings per day of approximately 13,000 people. Ensuring safe and orderly passage within the buffer zone is essentially the task of UNCIVPOL. In addition to the considerably increased functions of UNCIVPOL and the military in the buffer zone, there has also been a significant increase in the number of incidents requiring UNFICYP’s involvement outside the buffer zone since the crossings began. Opening of additional crossing points would create new demands on UNFICYP, for which it does not have sufficient resources.
The report notes that on 30 April a set of governmental measures was announced, including free movement of Turkish Cypriots and their goods and vehicles throughout the island; employment opportunities for Turkish Cypriots in the south; issuance of identity cards, travel documents, birth certificates and other official documents; and establishment of an office for Turkish Cypriot affairs.
On 9 May, a set of Turkish Cypriot measures was announced, including offering scholarships for Greek Cypriot students to study at the tertiary educational institutions in the north and a proposal for improved telephone communications facilities and normalization of trade with the south. There have been no official responses on these separate sets of measures.
The recent developments are not a substitute for a comprehensive settlement, the Secretary-General states. It seems highly unlikely that such a settlement can be achieved without the genuine political commitment to the proposal he has put forward and a firm timetable to finalize negotiations, as outlined in his recent report (document S/2003/398) on his mission of good offices.
On 14 April, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1475 (2003) in which it expressed regret that, due to the “negative approach” of the Turkish Cypriot leader, it had not been possible to put the Secretary-General’s settlement plan to simultaneous referenda by Turkish and Greek Cypriots and, as a result, there would be no comprehensive agreement on reunification of the island before 16 April -– the date of signing of Cyprus’ accession treaty to the European Union (see Press Release SC/7727).
In his report, the Secretary-General, while welcoming the limited easing of restrictions by the Turkish Cypriot authorities on UNFICYP’s movements imposed in July 2000 (see S/2000/1138), urges that UNFICYP be provided unhindered access and full freedom of movement throughout its entire area of responsibility.
The report states that during the past six months, the situation along the ceasefire lines has remained calm, and that air violations of the United Nations buffer zone decreased from 37 during the last reporting period to nine.