November 23, 2017

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

United Nations

S/2005/353

  Security Council Distr.: General

27 May 2005

Original: English

 


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

I. Introduction

 

1. In its resolution 1568 (2004) of 22 October 2004, the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) until 15 June 2005, endorsed my recommendations for the amendment of the concept of operations and force levels of the mission and welcomed my intention to conduct a further review of its operations in advance of the next renewal of its mandate. The present report covers developments from 25 September 2004 to 20 May 2005, bringing up to date the record of activities carried out by UNFICYP pursuant to Security Council resolution 186 (1964) of 4 March 1964 and subsequent Council resolutions.

2. It also contains the findings of the review of UNFICYP, carried out by a joint UNFICYP/Headquarters review team headed by my Special Representative, Zbigniew Wlosowicz and the Acting Director of the Europe and Latin America Division, Office of Operations, Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Wolfgang Weisbrod-Weber. The joint team assessed the restructuring of UNFICYP and the implementation of its new concept of operations as well as developments on the ground and the operational environment of the force. During its visit to the island, between 6 and 11 May, the joint team sought and took into account the views of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides, consulted with representatives of the diplomatic community and the United Nations family and held discussions with the representative of the European Commission.

3. UNFICYP continues to be led by my Special Representative and Chief of Mission , Zbigniew Wlosowicz, assisted by the Force Commander, Major-General Hebert Figoli ( Uruguay ). The strength of the military component stood at 869 all ranks. The strength of the police component stood at 52 (see annex).

 

II. General background

 

4. The overall situation in Cyprus remained stable, although the official contacts between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides, which had ceased since the April 2004 referenda, have not been resumed and there is little sign of improvement in relations. Discussions at the regular monthly meetings between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political party leaders, held under the aegis of the Embassy of Slovakia at the former Ledra Palace Hotel, illustrated the differences on core issues of the Cyprus problem. Separate meetings of the leader of the Turkish Republican Party (CTP, a member of the ruling coalition in the north), with the leader of the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL, a member of the ruling coalition in the south) and the leader of the Greek Cypriot Democratic Rally Party (DISY, the main opposition party) produced no tangible progress beyond general declarations of support for a just settlement.

5. Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat emerged from the April 2005 vote in the north as the undisputed leader of the Turkish Cypriot community. The vote provided renewed evidence of the community’s commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Cyprus issue.

6. During the reporting period, there was no substantive change in the position of the sides on my mission of good offices. The Turkish Cypriot leadership and the Government of Turkey have called for a resumption of talks and a solution based on the “Comprehensive Settlement of the Cyprus Problem”, approved by the Turkish Cypriot side but rejected by the Greek Cypriot side in the April 2004 referenda. On 9 May, in Moscow , I had the opportunity for informal consultations with President Papadopoulos and the Prime Minister of Turkey. Following these contacts, a Greek Cypriot delegation arrived in New York on 16 May for preliminary discussions to explore the possibility of resuming negotiations. Consultations were in progress at the time of the finalization of the present report.

7. On 17 December 2004, the European Union (EU) proposed 3 October 2005 to Turkey as a date for the commencement of accession talks. This offer implied an obligation for Turkey to extend the customs union agreement to the 10 new EU member States, including Cyprus .

8. On the island, the benefits of the EU membership of Cyprus are becoming manifest. However, in the area of property, it has opened up new fronts of litigation and acrimony. Already, hundreds of Greek Cypriot claims against Turkey for the loss of property rights in the north are pending before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg , France . Additionally, in 2005, Greek Cypriots approached courts in the south for EU arrest warrants against foreigners buying or selling Greek Cypriot property in the north. In this regard, Turkish Cypriot authorities have warned that they will arrest and detain those attempting to serve court summonses. The prospect of an increase of litigation in property cases on either side poses a serious threat to people-to-people relationships and to the reconciliation process. Property rights continue to be an extremely sensitive issue on both sides and it is widely believed that only a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem can bring closure to the property issue.

9. The work of the Committee on Missing Persons, which resumed on 31 August 2004, is continuing. During three missions of the Inforce Foundation Centre for Forensic Science, Technology and Law (an agency based in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) in October 2004 and January and May 2005, the modalities of an exhumation and identification programme were discussed. At the request of the Committee on Missing Persons, the Foundation conducted a site assessment between 5 and 12 January 2005. However, critical provisions pertaining to the 1981 terms of reference of the Committee and the 31 July 1997 agreement have remained unimplemented.

III. Activities of the Force

 

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

 

10. The overall military security situation on the island continued to be stable. The two sides refrained from major military exercises and military parades were kept at a low profile. There were no indications of an increase of defence spending nor acquisition of new major equipment; the defence budget in the south has declined. The rotation of Turkish troops and their equipment did not imply a reinforcement. The number of Turkish troops and the nature of their equipment thus remain unchanged and continue to be seen as a threat by the Greek Cypriots.

11. The situation along the ceasefire lines has also remained calm. Since the implementation of the new concept of operations in February 2005, the overall number of incidents has decreased further. There was, however, an increase in incidents in a few sensitive locations. The monthly average number of incidents between November 2004 and January 2005 was 85, compared to a monthly average of 75 from February to April 2005. With two exceptions, the shooting of a Turkish forces soldier by a National Guard soldier with an air gun and a small but provocative exercise by Turkish forces/Turkish Cypriot security forces on the ceasefire line in Nicosia , all incidents were minor and did not constitute a security threat. Overall, the opposing forces have shown cooperation and restraint.

12. The majority of incidents occurred in areas where the opposing forces are in close proximity, in particular in the city of Nicosia . In December 2004, UNFICYP made a proposal to the National Guard and the Turkish forces to withdraw from selected positions in close proximity. This proposal was rejected by both sides. UNFICYP will nevertheless continue its efforts in this direction.

13. The number of air violations decreased from 67, in the last reporting period, to 30; 18 were by Turkish military aircraft, 3 by National Guard military aircraft, 2 by Cypriot police helicopters and the remaining 7 were of unknown origin.

14. Clearing of National Guard minefields in the buffer zone commenced on 18 November 2004. Since then, over 250,000 square metres were cleared and more than 400 anti-personnel and approximately 900 anti-tank mines were removed and destroyed at a demolitions site in the United Nations Protected Area. There has been progress in UNFICYP’s negotiations on the arrangements for the clearing of Turkish forces minefields, but full agreement has not yet been reached.

15. On 19 May 2005, the Turkish Cypriot side lifted the restrictions imposed on UNFICYP in July 2000 by the Turkish forces/Turkish Cypriot security forces (TF/TCSF). This will allow UNFICYP to restore its operational capabilities in and around the buffer zone. However, the violation of the military status quo in Strovilia persisted. In addition, the United Nations continues to hold the Government of Turkey responsible for the maintenance of the status quo in Varosha.

16. By 7 February 2005, UNFICYP’s military component had completed its reduction in strength and started to implement the amended concept of operations. The strength of the Force at that time stood at about 875 military personnel, including some 15 military officers still needed to carry out civil affairs functions that had not yet been handed over to the civilian police component (see para. 30 below). In accordance with the amended concept of operations, UNFICYP has reduced the number of operational sites from 12 to 4 camps, from 17 to 2 permanent observation posts and from 21 to 9 patrol bases. The force increased the frequency of patrols and extended their duration to prevent operational gaps stemming from the closure of static observation posts. The average number of patrols prior to February 2005 was approximately 50 per day; this number rose to approximately 200 per day between February and April 2005.

17. While the overall reduction of the number of incidents is a positive indicator that the reduction in strength and the amendment of the concept of operations have not led to a deterioration of the security situation, there are indications of anxiety on the part of some of the civilian inhabitants of the buffer zone as well as expressions of concern by both sides about the thinning out of static positions in some specific locations. UNFICYP is taking these indications seriously and will address them to the extent possible within the new force structure. UNFICYP is also planning to increase its air patrolling and to make more efficient use of technology for surveillance.

18. Both opposing forces responded positively to the introduction of a military observer and liaison group within the force. Twelve officers were trained and deployed in January 2005 and have started to be involved in liaison at the regimental level and in the mediation of incidents. A second group of 16 officers has been trained and full operating capability will soon be reached. The experience with this new type of officer is positive and they have already added value to the Force by improving the flow of information and the speedy resolution of incidents. However, the concept and modus operandi is still new, and more time will be required for it to reach its full potential.

19. The review team found that the amended, more mobile concept of operations allows UNFICYP to maintain the same level of mandate implementation with the currently reduced troop strength. The introduction of a military observer and liaison group has started to adequately address and contribute to an increased emphasis on liaison, observation and mediation rather than the interposition of forces, for which UNFICYP still retains some capability. The review team also considered whether further reductions in force strength would be possible at this stage, but concluded that the new concept is still in its early stages and more time and experience will be needed to assess its full impact before taking decisions in this regard.

 

B. Contribution to the restoration of law and order and a return to normal conditions

 

20. As at 20 May 2005, at the four crossing points opened in the spring of 2003, more than seven million crossings by Greek Cypriots to the north and Turkish Cypriots to the south have taken place, with remarkably few incidents. The opening of additional crossing points at Zodhia/Bostanci in the west of Nicosia and Ledra Street in the old town of Nicosia have been delayed because of the need to clear the areas of landmines and the difficulty in establishing cooperation on practicalities. However, the Zodhia/Bostanci crossing is expected to open soon.

21. While the movement of people has been steady, trade across the buffer zone has been limited by technical and political hurdles, with goods worth less than half a million Cyprus pounds (about 1 million United States dollars) crossing the line since the EU’s green line regulation came into effect last year. In February 2005, the European Council decided to raise the ceiling on personal goods to 135 euros (€) and to expand the list of personal items and agricultural goods that could be taken across the line. The Turkish Cypriot side reciprocated with its own measure with regard to personal goods. The Greek Cypriot side has permitted buses and taxis registered in the north and supplied with the south’s documents to pick up tourists destined to the north from the south’s ports of entry; however, rental cars from the north are not allowed to cross into the south.

22. The EU Commission recommendation of a €259 million aid package for the north is yet to be acted upon. While the Greek Cypriot side supports the aid package, the Turkish Cypriot side agrees to accept it only together with the Commission’s recommendation on direct trade between the north of the island and the EU. The Greek Cypriot side continues to oppose such direct trade.

23. Official contact between the sides is hampered by a high degree of mistrust. On 15 January 2005, three members of a Turkish Cypriot family living in the south were killed on the Larnaca highway in the south. Eight suspects were arrested in the north while all evidence remained in the south. UNFICYP’s efforts to assist the sides to bring the suspects to justice proved unsuccessful, and all suspects were released in the north. This case is an illustration of the growing number of crimes across the ceasefire line, such as smuggling, drug trafficking, illegal immigration and human trafficking. These problems are implicit in the expanding inter-communal contacts, which, although positive, have also the potential for adverse consequences if the present lack of cooperation between the two sides persists.

24. The continuing absence of official contacts between the sides has accentuated UNFICYP’s role in promoting bicommunal contacts. Although people from either side can meet freely since the opening of the crossings in 2003, the impartiality of the Ledra Palace Hotel venue and the United Nations umbrella are considered indispensable for sensitive humanitarian and other meetings, including those of political parties from the north and the south. It is hoped that under the auspices of UNFICYP, contacts may be established between the sides, without prejudice to their political positions, on humanitarian and related issues generating a climate of trust and easing tensions. During the reporting period, UNFICYP provided facilities for 57 bicommunal events, including those implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), bringing together 2,500 Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

25. UNFICYP’s support of projects designed to maximize opportunities for civil use of the buffer zone continued. UNFICYP facilitated projects in the infrastructure, farming and ecological areas, including the construction of a gas bottle storage facility in the buffer zone in sector 2, the building of a garage and store near Dherynia, the extension of stables on the Pyla plateau, the maintenance of a road between Mammari and Dhenia, the cleaning of the Klimos river bed and land consolidation schemes and the drilling of water wells. The restoration of the 14th century Venetian castle in the mixed buffer zone village of Pyla , which was facilitated by UNFICYP and funded by the EU, was completed in December 2004. UNFICYP sought and obtained agreement from the village’s football associations to revive the mixed youth football team, which had been disbanded in 1968.

26. UNFICYP continued to carry out its mandated humanitarian tasks in support of the 404 Greek Cypriots and 149 Maronites living in the northern part of the island. At the end of November 2004, UNFICYP arranged for an icon to be brought from the south for the service at Apostolos Andreas monastery. Additionally, through UNFICYP mediation, permission was granted for a second priest to be installed in the Karpas. In spring 2005, UNFICYP obtained permission from the Turkish Cypriot side for the remainder of the full complement of teachers for the Greek Cypriot elementary and secondary schools at Rizokarpaso.

27. In March 2005, the Greek Cypriot side pledged to UNFICYP that it would open a Turkish secondary school in the south. UNFICYP has lent its good offices to the sides to work out the practicalities. In the south, UNFICYP also assisted Turkish Cypriots in obtaining identity documents, housing, welfare services, medical care, employment and education.

28. In the absence of a political office in UNFICYP, the civil affairs component continues to assist the Senior Adviser and the Chief of Mission in political and civil affairs negotiations with the two sides as well as in political analysis and reporting.

29. The need for the Force’s assistance in incidents on one side involving Cypriots from the other side has increased. UNFICYP civilian police and civil affairs officers monitored and followed up on more than 60 cases of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots involved in unauthorized crossings, photography, traffic violations, accidents, burglary, assault, illegal possession of firearms and drug trafficking. The Greek Cypriot side instituted criminal proceedings in 10 cases involving Turkish Cypriots, while the Turkish Cypriot side brought proceedings against Greek Cypriots in eight cases. UNFICYP civilian police officers visited Turkish Cypriots detained in the south and Greek Cypriots detained in the north as a result of these proceedings and monitored trials and outcomes. During the same period, UNFICYP’s civilian police component facilitated 11 prison visits of families of Turkish Cypriots detained in the south and 14 medical evacuations from the north to the south.

30. Due to delays in the deployment of additional civilian police officers, the sector civil affairs teams continued to be staffed with military officers. However, in order to prepare for the smooth transfer of the sector civil affairs teams to the civilian police component, a civilian police officer was attached to the military teams in the sectors to observe and assist in the preparation of the transition. Civilian police officers have also started coordinating patrols with the military along the buffer zone. The overall number of patrols has increased from 1,520 between November 2004 and January 2005, to 2,180 between February and April 2005. A civilian police officer has also been attached to the sector 2 military operations room, which organizes, inter alia, activities in relation to the Ledra crossing. Since March 2005, civilian police officers carry out the weekly humanitarian visits to UNFICYP’s liaison office in Limassol, in keeping with the practice of civilian police officers accompanying UNFICYP’s humanitarian patrols and welfare visits to the Greek Cypriots in the Karpas and the Maronite villages in the north and to the Turkish Cypriot quarter in Paphos in the south. The UNFICYP liaison post at the Greek Cypriot village of Leonarisso in the Karpas continues to be manned by military staff, but civilian police officers are expected to take over in September 2005, providing an opportunity to strengthen relations with their counterparts there.

31. The number of civilian police tasks is expected to increase with the expected opening of additional crossing points, in particular the Zodhia/Bostanci crossing, where UNFICYP’s civilian police will need to patrol the road through the buffer zone since neither side exercises jurisdiction beyond their respective ceasefire lines. In addition, as mentioned earlier (see para. 23 above), there is an increase in crime across the ceasefire line, which, while primarily a responsibility of the two sides, will also add to the workload of the Force’s civilian police component.

32. The review team found that the civilian police and civil affairs tasks have continued to increase in number and complexity, as have the requests from both sides for assistance. It is therefore important that Member States make available the additional officers needed to bring the actual strength of UNFICYP’s civilian police component up to the authorized strength of 69.

 

IV. Financial aspects

 

33. As indicated in my previous report (see S/2004/756), the General Assembly, by its resolution 58/301 of 18 June 2004, appropriated for UNFICYP the amount of $51.9 million, including $2.2 million for strengthening the security and safety of the staff and premises of the Force. In this regard, I am grateful for the voluntary contribution of one third of the cost of the Force, equivalent to $16.4 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.

34. My proposed budget for the maintenance of UNFICYP for the period from 1 July 2005 to 30 June 2006, which amounts to some $44.3 million, is currently under consideration by the General Assembly, with its action thereon expected shortly.

35. As at 30 April 2005, the total outstanding assessed contributions to the special account for UNFICYP for the period from 16 June 1993 to 15 June 2005 amounted to $14.1 million. The total outstanding assessed contributions for all peacekeeping operations as at the same date amounted to $2,218.8 million.

 

V. Observations

 

36. The situation in Cyprus has been calm but, in the absence of a viable political process, the distrust between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot side has persisted, as has the military posture and the concomitant perception of threat. In this situation, I continue to believe that the presence of UNFICYP on the island remains necessary for the maintenance of the ceasefire and in order to foster conditions conducive to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem. The review conducted in pursuance of resolution 1568 (2004) found that this view is shared by both sides on the island, as well as by the guarantor Powers and other interested parties.

37. UNFICYP enjoys good cooperation from both sides. In this connection, I note with satisfaction the lifting of restrictions of movement of UNFICYP by the Turkish Cypriot side.

38. I share the view of the review team that the restructuring of UNFICYP and the amended concept of operations will allow UNFICYP to implement its mandate in an effective and efficient manner. However, delays in the recruitment and deployment of staff have not allowed the new concept to reach its full potential. With the strengthening of the civil affairs and civilian police components in UNFICYP, the increase in mobility in the military component and the inclusion of a military observation and liaison group, the mission is moving in the right direction. However, more time will be required to assess the full impact of the present changes and the need for any further adjustments. Meanwhile, the UNFICYP civilian police component urgently needs to be brought up to strength, and I thank those Member States who have made commitments for contributions of additional officers. Until this is done, UNFICYP will need to retain the additional 15 military personnel (in addition to the authorized strength of 860) currently engaged in civil affairs activities.

39. I therefore recommend that the Security Council extend the mandate of UNFICYP for a further six-month period, starting on 16 June 2005 and ending 15 December 2005, with the present authorized strength and concept of operations. During this time, we will keep the operations of UNFICYP under close review, and I will revert to the Council in the event that major changes are warranted.

40. I do not believe that the time is ripe to appoint a full-time person dedicated to my good offices. 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. However, I intend 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 political developments.

41. 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 20 May 2005)

 

 

 

Military personnel

Argentina a

295

Austria

4

Canada

1

Croatia

2

Finland

2

Hungary

84

Ireland

1

Slovakia

202

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

278

Total

869

 

Civilian police

Australia

15

Croatia

2

India

11

Ireland

18

Netherlands

6

Total

52

 

a The Argentinean contingent includes soldiers from Bolivia (1), Brazil (1), Chile (15), Paraguay (16), Uruguay (2) and Peru ( 14 ).