May 9, 2021

Statement by the Deputy Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the 4th Committee Dr. George Kasoulides on the Comprehensive Review of the Whole Question of Peacekeeping Operations in all their Aspects

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset I would like to express my deep appreciation to the Chairman of the Special Committee of Peace-Keeping Operations, Ambassador Arthur Mbanefo of Nigeria and the Chairman of the Working Group, Amb. Michel Duval of Canada and the other members of the Bureau for the efficient and way they led our work at the Special Committee’s deliberations.  I would also like to express our gratitude for a comprehensive presentation and a frank interactive exchange from Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Mr. Jean-Marie Guéhenno. 

As a EU associated state, Cyprus has aligned itself with the statement made by the distinguished representative of Belgium on behalf of the European Union.  I would, therefore, restrict myself to certain additional aspects of peacekeeping as appeared from Cyprus unique perspective as a host country to a long-standing UN Peacekeeping Operation, UNFICYP.

Mr. Chairman,

As the latest dramatic events unfold in Afghanistan, nobody doubts today that the United Nations Peacekeeping operations are transformed from preventive deterrent measures to a most potent instrument in the organization’s arsenal in the promotion and maintenance of international peace and security.  There is widespread conviction that peace-making and post-conflict peace-building are the key elements in the armory of the organization in its quest to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.”

It was only fitting, therefore, following to the steps of the Brahimi report to spend this massive effort in elaborating and expanding on all aspects of peace-keeping though the work of the Special Committee and the special working group of the Security Council.   We also hope that legal recourse to the International Court of Justice and other international legal bodies will increase in parallel with other methods of dispute settlement.

Mr. Chairman,

While all these new dynamic developments are unfolding, it is with sadness that I am again obliged to report on developments concerning one of the first established peace-keeping operations.  Cyprus, the host of a peace-keeping operation for 37 years, is a very relevant case demonstrating the pros and cons of peacekeeping and the necessity to combine peace-making and peace-building to avoid stalemate and stagnation.

In 1964 following the first Turkish attempt to interfere in Cyprus and recourse to the Security Council by the Republic of Cyprus, UNFICYP was established.  At the time it was thought that a three months mandate, reinforced with the appointment of a UN mediator will solve the problem.  The mediator produced a balanced report that was accepted from my government but rejected by the Turkish side.  The 1974 invasion by Turkey and the forcible division of the island with the creation of a buffer zone, forced UNFICYP to adjust its mandate to the new conditions.  It should be added that this mandate now includes humanitarian issues and the alleviation of human suffering that is a result of the continuing military occupation.

I am sure that it is the lessons of peacekeeping operations such as the one in Cyprus that prompted the authors of the Brahimi report to instigate that: “when the U.N. does send its force to withhold the peace, they must be prepared to confront the lingering forces of war and violence, with the ability and determination to defeat them”.  Unfortunately in the case of Cyprus, as demonstrated in the events of 1974, the Force did not have the necessary mandate and backing to prevent such a disaster.  Thirty seven years after its inception and twenty seven after the invasion UNFICYP is still present, monitoring an uneasy peace (and I quote from the Secretary-General’s reports) “in one of the most highly militarized areas in the world in terms of the ratio between numbers of troops and civilian population.”

Despite numerous UN resolutions, including binding resolutions of the Security Council and the on-going efforts of the Secretary General through his Good Offices, the problem is still unresolved.  The latest effort that is still in progress raised again expectations, but one need only to read through the Turkish blunt statements for the need to succumb to the realities of occupation, the threats coming from the mouth of Turkey’s Prime Minister that Turkey will proceed with annexation of the occupied Cyprus, if Cyprus joins the European Union to realize the Turkish objectives.  The latest official invitation of the Secretary-General to resume negotiations was turned down by the Turkish side and the Security Council has expressed its disappointment for this unjustified decision in its Statement of 26 September 2001.

Nevertheless, President Clerides, even under these conditions accepted to meet Mr. Denktash face to face in an effort to salvage the talks and proceed with the good offices of the Secretary-General.  A meeting between President Clerides and Mr. Denktash is to be held on the 4th December and the Secretary-General expressed his hope that this meeting will move the process forward.  We express also the hope that the Turkish side and Mr. Denktash in particular will approach this meeting with the necessary political will to find a fair and lasting settlement within the parameters of the Security Council resolutions, respect of international law, human rights and the Acquis Communautaire.

I would return again to the Brahimi report and one of its aphorisms: “The UN military units must be capable of defending themselves, other mission components and the mission’s mandate.  Rules of engagement should be sufficiently robust and not force United Nations contingents to cede the initiative to their attackers.”  In another part it states that “impartiality for United Nations operations must therefore mean adherence to the principles of the Charter” and highlights that “no failure did more to damage the standing and credibility of United Nations peacekeeping in the 1990s than its reluctance to distinguish victim from aggressor”.

Last year we informed this Committee, the Security Council, and the whole world that among the rounds of the latest good offices effort, the Turkish occupation army advanced its positions along the ceasefire line in the area of Strovilia, resulting in what the Secretary-General described as a “clear violation of the status quo”.  The Security Council in Resolution 1331 of December 2000 and Resolution 1354 of June 2001 called “the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkish forces to rescind the restrictions imposed on 30 June 2000 on the operations of UNFICYP and to restore the military status quo ante at Strovilia.”  The Turkish forces and the political leadership of Turkey completely ignored these resolutions and the inability up to this day of the Force on the ground to intervene, in a decisive way and return the situation to the status quo ante, reflects on the effectiveness of the United Nations.

Lastly Mr. Chairman allow me to make some comments on financing.

Effective peacekeeping operations must rest on a sure and stable financial footing.  We would therefore, reiterate the need for prompt payment of contributions and without conditions attached.  May I recall that in relation to the financing of UNFICYP, the Government of Cyprus voluntarily contributes 1/3 of the total cost of the Force?  This is in addition to a plethora of facilities and services that are offered on the ground and increase even further the financial burden on Cyprus. Furthermore, the Government of Cyprus voluntarily contributes an additional 1/3 more than its assessed contributions to all UN Peacekeeping Operations, a further manifestation of our commitment to UN peacekeeping.  We also made a commitment to give up voluntarily the discount entitled under the present system, as our contribution to peacekeeping. Allow me at this juncture to express my Government’s gratitude for the generous contributions from the member states and to thank also the countries contributing troops to UNFICYP.

As the United Nations are focusing on yet another case where combine international effort is needed to “maintain peace and security” Cyprus is grateful for the contribution of the Force in maintaining peace on the island and alleviating suffering and its contribution to peace building.  We honour each blue helmet individually and collectively for their dedication to these noble ideas.  We feel however, that Cyprus is a hostage to peacekeeping and it is time to move forward.  It is time to transform this instrument of deterrence to an instrument of healing.

Thank You.