May 14, 2021

S/1996/411 – Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations operation in Cyprus

United Nations


  Security Council Distr.: General

7 June 1996

Original: English



(for the period from 11 December 1995 to 10 June 1996)


1. The present report on the United Nations operation in Cyprus covers developments from 11 December 1995 to 10 June 1996 and brings up to date the record of the activities of the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) pursuant to Security Council resolution 186 (1964) of 4 March 1964 and subsequent Council resolutions, most recently resolution 1032 (1995) of 19 December 1995. A separate report will be issued on the Secretary-General’s mission of good offices.

2. In its resolution 186 (1964), the Security Council defined the mandate of UNFICYP as follows:

“In the interest of preserving international peace and security, to use its best efforts to prevent a recurrence of fighting and, as necessary, to contribute to the maintenance and restoration of law and order and a return to normal conditions.”

The Council has repeatedly reaffirmed that mandate. In connection with the events that have occurred since 15 July 1974, the Council has adopted a number of resolutions, some of which required the Force to perform certain additional or modified functions relating, in particular, to the maintenance of the cease-fire.


A. Maintenance of the cease-fire and the militarystatus quo

3. The cease-fire lines of the Turkish forces and the Cypriot National Guard extend approximately 180 kilometres, roughly from east to west across the island. The area between the lines, known as the United Nations buffer zone, has a width that varies from a few metres to 7 kilometres and covers about 3 per cent of the island (see the attached map). The United Nations buffer zone contains some of the most fertile land in Cyprus. There are six villages in the buffer zone, but only one, Pyla, is inhabited by members of both communities. The total population of the villages in the buffer zone is about 8,000 Greek Cypriots and 350 Turkish Cypriots.

4. UNFICYP undertakes constant surveillance of the United Nations buffer zone from 22 permanent observation posts, daylight surveillance from 2 additional posts and periodic daily surveillance from another 19 patrol bases. UNFICYP also maintains less frequent periodic surveillance of the remainder of the buffer zone from a further 118 observation posts, carries out vehicle, foot and air patrols, and maintains surveillance of the seaward extension of the cease-fire lines for 5 kilometres.

5. During the period under review, both sides generally respected the cease-fire and the military status quo. UNFICYP exercised increased vigilance during the crisis in the Aegean at the end of January 1996. At that time, there was a short rise in tension along the cease-fire lines, which subsequently subsided. During the period under review, UNFICYP intervened in numerous minor incidents to correct violations and prevent any escalation of the situation. On a number of occasions, military and police personnel of the opposing forces were observed moving forward of their respective cease-fire lines into the buffer zone. In almost all cases, they withdrew without incident following intervention by UNFICYP.

6. The National Guard continued its extensive programme to strengthen its military positions, or to add new ones, along the whole length of the cease-fire line. UNFICYP has protested a total of 150 military constructions in the immediate vicinity of the buffer zone as violations of the spirit of the cease-fire.

7. There were again a number of overflights of Cypriot airspace by military fixed-wing aircraft. Those flights have the potential to increase tension. The Government of the Republic of Cyprus protested violations of Cypriot air space by Turkish military aircraft. The Government of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side protested the presence of aircraft of the Greek air force in Cypriot air space.

8. The status quo of the fenced area of Varosha remained a matter of concern to UNFICYP. Incidents of looting continued to occur during the reporting period. On two occasions (in late December 1995 and March 1996), Turkish forces broke into one of the United Nations observation posts. In addition, an unoccupied hotel was converted into student accommodations and has been occupied since 26 February 1996. These developments have been protested by UNFICYP to the Turkish forces, who were reminded once again that the United Nations holds the Government of Turkey responsible for the maintenance of the status quo in the fenced area of Varosha. The Permanent Mission of Turkey has informed the United Nations that student dormitories were being built outside the fenced area of Varosha, which will permit the above-mentioned hotel to be vacated within a few months.

9. There are 39 minefields and booby-trapped areas inside the buffer zone, and a further 71 are located on either side within 500 metres of the cease-fire lines. UNFICYP has, on numerous occasions, unsuccessfully requested their removal by the forces on the two sides.


B. Implementation of paragraphs 5 to 7 of resolution1032 (1995)

10. In its resolution 1032 (1995) of 19 December 1995, the Security Council expressed its concern over the continued modernization and upgrading of military forces in Cyprus and urged all concerned to reduce force levels and defence spending. Despite continuous efforts by UNFICYP, no progress has been made towards that objective. On the contrary, both sides have continued to improve their military capabilities:

(a) In late January 1996, the Turkish forces embarked on a major phase of their equipment modernization programme. Approximately 80 of their M48A5 T1 main battle tanks were withdrawn from the island and were replaced by 65 of the improved T2 version from Turkey. At the same time, the Turkish forces considerably increased holdings of armoured personnel carriers (APCs) to an estimated 250 by introducing a further 80 APCs. The arrival of those tanks and APCs has significantly enhanced the capability of the Turkish forces in Cyprus. With over 30,000 Turkish and 4,500 Turkish Cypriot troops and with some 20 per cent of the area reserved for military purposes, the northern part of Cyprus remains one of the most densely militarized areas in the world;

(b) The National Guard, which remains much weaker than the Turkish forces in Cyprus, has continued its comprehensive military upgrading programme. Since my last report (S/1995/1020), the National Guard has received the remaining 25 BMP3 infantry fighting vehicles, bringing the total to 43. A further 84 Leonidas APCs arrived from Greece, bringing the total number of APCs and infantry fighting vehicles in the southern part of Cyprus to 375.

11. In resolution 1032 (1995), the Security Council again expressed concern at the failure of both sides to heed its call to prohibit live ammunition or weapons other than those which are hand-held along their respective cease-fire lines and the firing of weapons within hearing of the buffer zone. On the contrary, incidents of shooting near the cease-fire lines have increased during the reporting period. Such incidents have the potential of raising tension, with possibly serious consequences. Three incidents are of particular concern. On 8 May 1996, two tracer rounds were fired by Turkish forces towards an UNFICYP helicopter on a previously announced routine flight inside the buffer zone. On 10 May 1996, two shots were fired by Turkish forces in the vicinity of a UNFICYP patrol in the buffer zone.

12. The third incident took place on 3 June 1996. An unarmed National Guard soldier was shot and killed inside the United Nations buffer zone in central Nicosia. The investigation has revealed that the lethal round was fired by a Turkish Cypriot soldier whom UNFICYP had observed entering the buffer zone with his rifle strung across his back. Shortly thereafter a single shot was heard and the Turkish Cypriot soldier was seen running back in a crouched position to the Turkish cease-fire line holding his rifle in his right hand. UNFICYP soldiers were prevented from reaching the National Guard soldier by Turkish Cypriot soldiers who fired shots in the direction of the UNFICYP soldiers each time the latter tried to move forward. UNFICYP strongly protested to the Commander of the Turkish forces in Cyprus the unauthorized entry of an armed Turkish Cypriot soldier into the buffer zone, the shooting incident and the hostile action, including live fire against UNFICYP. UNFICYP is pursuing with the Turkish forces in Cyprus and with the Turkish Cypriot authorities the question of appropriate action and has requested that UNFICYP police investigating the killing be able to interview the Turkish Cypriot soldier involved in the incident. The military authorities on both sides have been urged once again to respect the United Nations buffer zone and ensure its integrity.

13. On numerous occasions, and most recently in its resolution 1032 (1995), the Security Council regretted that the military authorities on both sides had not yet reached an agreement with UNFICYP to extend the 1989 unmanning agreement to cover all areas where the two sides are in close proximity to each other, and called on them to cooperate urgently with UNFICYP to that end. Despite the continued efforts of UNFICYP, no progress has been made in this regard.

14. The area where the above-mentioned fatal incident occurred is among those identified in the unmanning proposal of 1994. The incident thus tragically underscores the urgent need for the two sides to comply with the repeated requests made by the Security Council to reach agreement on the prohibition of the use of loaded weapons along the cease-fire lines and on the extension of the 1989 unmanning agreement. Following the killing of the National Guard soldier, the Force Commander of UNFICYP resubmitted to both sides an updated version of the detailed proposal to unman their positions at a number of locations where the respective cease-fire lines are in close proximity to each other. The Force Commander urged the military authorities on both sides to cooperate with UNFICYP in this regard in accordance with the repeated requests made by the Security Council.
C. Restoration of normal conditions and humanitarianfunctions

15. UNFICYP continued its efforts to promote bicommunal events with a view to increasing communication and cooperation between the two communities. In its resolution 1032 (1995), the Security Council welcomed the initiative of UNFICYP in organizing successful bicommunal events and called upon the leaders of both communities to promote further bicommunal contacts and to remove obstacles to such contacts. However, the Turkish Cypriot authorities continued to exercise tight control and often denied permission to Turkish Cypriots to participate in bicommunal activities, not only in the southern part of the island, but even in the buffer zone. Despite efforts in cooperation with interested diplomatic missions, United Nations programmes and non-governmental organizations in Cyprus, UNFICYP has not been successful in having these obstacles removed and improving the atmosphere for bicommunal activities.

16. UNFICYP continued to discharge its humanitarian functions in respect of Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the northern part of the island. A detailed survey conducted during the reporting period has indicated that these communities now number 487 and 191 respectively. UNFICYP similarly discharged humanitarian functions with regard to Turkish Cypriots living in the southern part of the island, some 360 of whom are known to the Force.

17. Once again, during the current mandate period, the Government of Cyprus expressed to the United Nations its concern about continued desecration of the cultural and religious heritage of Cyprus in the northern part of the island. These concerns have been taken up with the Turkish Cypriot side.

18. As previously reported (S/1995/1020, para. 20), UNFICYP has, on the basis of comprehensive reviews, had extensive discussions with the authorities on both sides with regard to living conditions of Turkish Cypriots located in the southern part of the island and of Greek Cypriots and Maronites located in the northern part of the island.

19. In my last report, I summarized the main findings and recommendations concerning the situation of Turkish Cypriots living in the southern part of Cyprus. I noted that Turkish Cypriots there are accorded the same legal rights and privileges as Greek Cypriots, but that in several respects Turkish Cypriots living in the southern part of the island were often victims of capricious discrimination or police harassment. To rectify that situation, UNFICYP made four recommendations to the Government, which have been implemented to a significant extent.

20. With respect to the recommended review of the policies and procedures of the Cyprus police, the Government has undertaken an investigation of several incidents, and the District Commissioner, the Chief and the Deputy Chief of the police in Limassol were dismissed. In addition, the Attorney-General will decide, in the light of material collected by the government Ombudsman, what further action should be taken. Furthermore, measures are being considered to extend the investigative powers of the Ombudsman to include those of criminal investigation, as well as to endow the Attorney-General with the right to appoint criminal investigators for cases involving complaints against the police. Moreover, steps are being taken to make public prosecutors independent of the police headquarters. Finally, the curriculum of the Police Academy is being strengthened to promote greater police awareness of constitutional and human rights. I welcome these and other steps taken by the Government to deal with potential police misconduct.

21. The Government has also informed UNFICYP that it has accepted the recommendation to establish a government information/liaison office in Limassol staffed by Turkish-speaking personnel where Turkish Cypriots can obtain information and assistance on their entitlements. The Government also agreed with the recommendation that UNFICYP establish a liaison post in Limassol to facilitate further the Force’s mandate in carrying out its humanitarian functions with respect to Turkish Cypriots. Finally, the Government has accepted the recommendation of UNFICYP to establish a Turkish Cypriot elementary school staffed by a Turkish Cypriot teacher.

22. With regard to the Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the northern part of the island, I had informed the Council that those communities were subjected to severe restrictions and limitations in many basic freedoms, which had the effect of ensuring that inexorably, with the passage of time, the communities would cease to exist. UNFICYP made a series of recommendations to the Turkish Cypriot authorities to improve the situation (S/1995/1020, paras. 23-25).

23. With a few exceptions, the situation of Greek Cypriots living in the Karpas area has not improved. Some improvements can be noted with respect to travel to the southern part of the island by Greek Cypriots living in the northern part and travel by Greek Cypriots living in the southern part of the island who wish to visit their close relatives in the northern part of Cyprus. Furthermore, some telephones have been installed in homes of Greek Cypriots in the Karpas area. However, the telephones do not permit direct calls to the southern part of the island, the main destination for calls by Greek Cypriots living there.

24. The key restrictions on Greek Cypriots living in the northern part of Cyprus that were noted in the UNFICYP survey remain. For example, Greek Cypriot school children over the age of 16 for boys and 18 for girls attending school in the southern part of the island may never return to their homes in the northern part of Cyprus, not even for a visit. Travel within the northern part of the island remains restricted for Greek Cypriots, as does access to holy sites. Fixed property can still not be bequeathed by Greek Cypriots living in the Karpas area to their next of kin living outside the northern part of Cyprus.

25. With respect to recommendations concerning the situation of the Maronites living in the northern part of the island, there have been some limited improvements in their freedom of movement and provision of water to them. However, a medical centre has not yet been established in Kormakiti with Maronite doctors and nurses visiting on a regular basis, nor are the Maronites freely allowed to visit holy places located in the northern part of Cyprus. Their access to telephones remains extremely limited and does not permit direct calls to the southern part of the island, the main destination of their calls.


D. Liaison with the parties

26. UNFICYP continued to maintain close liaison and cooperation with the military and civilian authorities on both sides. The liaison arrangements worked well on the whole, although the Force’s timely and unmonitored access to detainees of both sides, in particular those who have crossed the buffer zone, needs to be improved.

27. While UNFICYP has complete freedom of movement in the southern part of the island, except for restricted military areas, its movements in the northern part are subject to restrictions. On the other hand, no such restrictions apply to diplomats and tourists. UNFICYP has renewed its efforts to correct this incongruous situation, which is at variance with the spirit that should govern the relationship with a United Nations peace-keeping operation. It is hoped that the situation will be rectified without further delay.



A. Economic matters

28. UNFICYP continued to act as the intermediary between the two communities and to facilitate cooperation in such areas as the repair and equitable distribution of utilities. The electricity supply on the island has improved with the increased generating capacity in its northern part. However, the Turkish Cypriot side continues to require some supplies from the southern part of the island. With the assistance of UNFICYP, the two electricity authorities coordinate their efforts to secure adequate power. UNFICYP also continued to assist in the implementation of the bicommunal understandings on water distribution and the cooperation in the repair of infrastructure.

B. Activities of the United Nations Development Programme

29. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as coordinator of the operational activities for development of the United Nations system, continued its activities in the framework of the Nicosia Master Plan and the coordination of activities of other United Nations agencies in the country. In particular, UNDP pursued bicommunal activities, together with other United Nations programmes and specialized agencies, mainly in the sectors of health and environment.


C. Activities of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

30. The main bicommunal projects of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for 1996 are in the sectors of health and sanitation and of restoration, conservation and rehabilitation of the Venetian Walls of Nicosia and the currently vacant houses adjacent to the United Nations buffer zone. UNHCR is also financing bicommunal projects in forestry, pest and disease control, and measurement of environmental pollution. During the reporting period, 20 bicommunal activities were organized and sponsored by UNHCR, including regular meetings of the bicommunal coordination teams on sewerage, forestry, plant protection, rat control, environment and disabled persons, a bicommunal seminar in cardiology and the training of veterinary surgeons in modern techniques.



31. Following the resignation in early March of Mr. Paul Wurth as Third Member of the Committee on Missing Persons after nearly 11 years of dedicated service, I wrote to the leaders of the two communities that I was prepared to consider appointing a new Third Member provided that there was clear evidence that the Committee on Missing Persons was committed to making expeditious progress. To that end, I asked the two sides by the end of June 1996:

(a) To agree on the definition of all categories submitted by the two sides for classifying all the 1,493 Greek Cypriot and 500 Turkish Cypriot cases of missing persons before the Committee on Missing Persons;

(b) To agree on the sequence in which the investigations of the various categories of cases would be carried out, in line with the agreed guidelines and criteria for completing the investigation of each case;

(c) To agree that priority attention would be given to those categories of cases that could be concluded most expeditiously;

(d) To agree to collect expeditiously all available information on cases without known witnesses, on the basis of which the Committee on Missing Persons would conclude its work on those cases.

The two leaders informed me that they agreed with my proposals. As soon as these tasks have been satisfactorily completed, I will initiate the procedure leading to the appointment of a new Third Member.



32. As at 1 June 1996, the total strength (military personnel and civilian police) of UNFICYP was 1,197. The 1,162 military personnel were from Argentina (390), Austria (311), Canada (2), Finland (2), Hungary (39), Ireland (30) and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (388). The civilian police were from Australia (20) and Ireland (15). In addition, 40 personnel were internationally recruited and 318 locally recruited. The deployment of the Force is shown on the map attached to the present report.

33. Some time ago, Mr. Joe Clark advised me of his desire to leave his functions as my Special Representative for Cyprus as soon as a successor could be appointed. On 1 May 1996, I appointed Mr. Han Sung-Joo, former Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, as my new Special Representative for Cyprus. Mr. Gustave Feissel continued as my Deputy Special Representative, resident in Cyprus, and as Chief of Mission of the United Nations Operation in Cyprus. Brigadier-General Ahti T. P. Vartiainen (Finland) continued as Force Commander.

Financial aspects

34. On 3 June 1996, the Fifth Committee recommended that the General Assembly appropriate the amount of $45,079,500 gross for the maintenance of the Force for the period from 1 July 1996 to 30 June 1997 (see A/50/827/Add.1, para. 6). That amount is inclusive of the pledged voluntary contributions of one third of the cost of the Force from the Government of Cyprus and of the $6.5 million contributed annually from the Government of Greece.

35. Should the Security Council decide to extend the mandate of UNFICYP for a further period of six months as I recommend in paragraph 43 below, and subject to the decision of the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Fifth Committee, the costs for maintaining the Force would be approximately $22.5 million. Of that amount, approximately $12.1 million will be assessed on Member States.

36. As at 31 May 1996, the total outstanding assessed contributions to the UNFICYP Special Account amounted to $9,483,162, which represents some 14.5 per cent of the assessment for the mission since 16 June 1993. The outstanding assessed contributions for all peace-keeping operations totalled $1.7 billion.



37. During the past six months, with the cooperation of both sides, UNFICYP has continued to carry out its functions in Cyprus effectively. The overall situation on the island remained calm, although tension rose periodically. UNFICYP continued to make every effort to mitigate such situations.

38. The Security Council has repeatedly declared that the status quo is not an acceptable option. It should also be clear to all concerned that the situation is not static and that delaying an overall settlement is to the detriment of both communities, as well as to Greece and Turkey.

39. Once again, I must express serious concern at the excessive levels of military forces and armaments in Cyprus and at the rate at which they are being expanded, upgraded and modernized. This can only increase tension on the island and in the region. Furthermore, the opposing forces still have not heeded the repeated calls of the Security Council to implement specific measures aimed at reducing the risk of confrontation along the cease-fire lines. The tragic death of the young National Guard soldier sadly illustrates the urgent need to come to an agreement on the proposals made by UNFICYP concerning the unmanning of a number of locations along the respective cease-fire lines and to prohibit the use of loaded weapons there. In this context, I was dismayed at the attempt by the Turkish Cypriot Security Forces to prevent UNFICYP by the threat of force from fulfilling its duties in the buffer zone. I have requested Mr. Feissel and Brigadier-General Vartiainen to make renewed and vigorous efforts to reach agreements with the military authorities on both sides to implement the measures recommended by the Security Council to reduce tension along the cease-fire lines.

40. Bicommunal contacts can contribute significantly to facilitating an overall settlement. It is obvious that the encouragement of tolerance, trust and reconciliation between the two communities through increased contact and improved communication is an essential part of the peace process, and I strongly urge both communities, and especially the Turkish Cypriot authorities, to lift and prevent all obstacles to such contacts.

41. The situation of Greek Cypriots and Maronites in the northern part of the island continues to fall far short of the normal life they were promised under the agreement reached by the two sides at Vienna on 2 August 1975. In my last report, I welcomed the commitment by the Turkish Cypriot authorities to improving the daily lives of the persons concerned (S/1995/1020, para. 45). However, the measures implemented to date are very limited and insufficient for what is required. I welcome the measures taken by the Government of Cyprus towards normalizing the lives of the Turkish Cypriots living in the southern part of the island. UNFICYP will continue to follow these matters with the Turkish Cypriot authorities and the Government of Cyprus.

42. In the prevailing circumstances, I believe that the presence of UNFICYP on the island remains indispensable to achieving the objectives set out by the Security Council. Therefore, I recommend that the Council extend the mandate of the Force for a further period of six months to 31 December 1996. In accordance with established practice, I am consulting the parties concerned on the matter and shall report to the Council as soon as these consultations have been completed.

43. I take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the Governments contributing troops and civilian police to UNFICYP for the steadfast support they have given to this peace-keeping operation of the United Nations. I also wish to thank the Governments that have made voluntary contributions towards the financing of the Force.

44. In conclusion, I wish to express my appreciation to Mr. Joe Clark for his dedicated service over the past three years as my Special Representative for Cyprus. I also wish to pay tribute to my Deputy Special Representative and Chief of Mission, Mr. Gustave Feissel, to the Force Commander, Brigadier-General Ahti T. P. Vartiainen and to the men and women serving with UNFICYP. They have discharged with efficiency and dedication the important responsibilities entrusted to them by the Security Council.