May 18, 2021

Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations operation in Cyprus (S/2000/496)

United Nations


  Security Council Distr.: General

26 May 2000

Original: English



(for the period from 30 November 1999 to 31 May 2000)

I. Introduction


1. The present report on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus covers developments from 30 November 1999 to 31 May 2000 and brings up to date the record of the activities of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) pursuant to Security Council resolution 186 (1964) of 4 March 1964 and subsequent Security Council resolutions, most recently resolution 1283 (1999) of 15 December 1999.

II. Activities of the Force

A. Maintenance of the ceasefire and the military status quo

2. The situation along the ceasefire lines has remained stable, with a significant reduction in the overall number of incidents compared with the previous reporting period.

3. Occasional threats against United Nations soldiers on patrol involving the cocking and aiming of weapons by both opposing forces remained a concern. Local restrictions by the National Guard on the freedom of movement of the United Nations in the area of the Kokkina pocket and Kato Pyrgos at the western end of the buffer zone have impeded access to a number of United Nations observation posts. Efforts continue to have these restrictions removed.

4. Air violations of the United Nations buffer zone increased. Nine overflights by Turkish military aircraft and two by civilian aircraft from the north were recorded, as were six overflights by aircraft of the National Guard and Cyprus police and eleven by civilian aircraft from the south. On 4 April, a number of National Guard personnel in military vehicles, including a flagged staff car, were observed in the buffer zone at Athienou. UNFICYP protested these violations.

5. The National Guard’s annual spring exercise, which also involved Greek troops, took place between 16 and 18 May.

6. UNFICYP continued to monitor the fenced area in Varosha, for which the Turkish forces are responsible. No significant changes were observed.

B. Restoration of normal conditions and humanitarian functions

7. Contacts between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots on the island increased. Most of them occurred in events arranged with the help of UNFICYP at the former Ledra Palace Hotel in Nicosia and in Pyla, both in the United Nations buffer zone. These events included professional conferences, trade union meetings, a media forum, women’s gatherings, youth events and televised discussions among Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot journalists. For the first time in several years, two meetings took place between political party representatives from both sides.

8. UNFICYP continued to support civilian activities in the buffer zone, including farming, industry and recreational activities, subject to security concerns. Regular contacts and cooperation continued with both sides in efforts to resolve questions concerning movement and access, shared resources such as water, proposed works in the buffer zone and others. UNFICYP continued to maintain liaison with the police on both sides.

9. UNFICYP continued to carry out humanitarian tasks in respect of the 427 Greek Cypriots and 159 Maronites currently living in the northern part of the island and maintained contact with those Turkish Cypriots in the southern part who have made themselves known to UNFICYP. On 5 May the Turkish Cypriot authorities announced measures to ease restrictions affecting movement between the two sides, which they had instituted in February 1998. The main changes are the reduction of fees levied in connection with crossings from 15 pounds sterling per adult per visit to 1 pound sterling, the extension of visits to the north for a “reasonable period” and the lifting of the age limit for Greek Cypriot students who wish to visit their parents or grandparents in the north. The requirement to apply for permission in advance remained in effect. UNFICYP is monitoring the application of the new regulations.

10. UNFICYP helped to arrange several large pilgrimages of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to Apostolos Andreas monastery in the north and the Hala Sultan mosque in the south respectively.

III. Missing persons

11. After an interruption of more than three years, the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus held its one hundred eighty-third session, from November 1999 to January 2000, and discussed the possibility of resuming its investigative work.

12. Following the untimely death of Ambassador Jean-Pierre Ritter on 17 January 2000, the United Nations has been in touch with the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross in connection with the selection of a new third member. However, before proceeding to a new appointment, it would be important to ensure that the obstacles that have impeded the investigative work of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus had been removed and that both sides had shown a genuine commitment to reaching a consensus for the fulfilment of the five modalities contained in the letter of the Secretary-General of 4 December 1996.

V. Economic and social activities of the United Nations system

13. The United Nations Development Programme, through the United Nations Office for Project Services, continued to implement its programme aimed at promoting goodwill by encouraging the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities to work together in the preparation and implementation of projects in areas of mutual concern, notably public health, environment, sanitation, water, urban renovation, preservation of cultural heritage, natural resources and education.

V. Mission of good offices of the Secretary-General

14. In response to my invitation, Glafcos Clerides and Rauf Denktash agreed to start proximity talks in New York on 3 December 1999 in order to prepare the ground for meaningful negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement. The first round of talks, which lasted until 14 December 1999, was followed by a second round in Geneva, from 31 January to 8 February 2000. In the course of a trip to the island last March, my Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, met separately with the two leaders. He also paid a visit to Ankara and Athens in connection with the proximity talks. A third round, scheduled for 23 May in New York, was put off because of Mr. Clerides’ health. Both leaders have accepted my invitation to meet again in Geneva starting on 5 July.

VI. Organizational matters

15. As at May 2000, UNFICYP comprised 1,208 troops and 33 civilian police. The military personnel are from Argentina (409), Austria (239), Canada (2), Finland (11), Hungary (111), Slovenia (29), the Netherlands (99), Ireland (4) and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (304). The Argentine contingent includes 8 soldiers, from Bolivia (2), Brazil (2), Paraguay (1) and Uruguay (3). The civilian police are provided by Australia (20) and Ireland (13). In addition, UNFICYP had 224 civilian staff, of whom 43 were recruited internationally and 181 locally.

16. Mr. de Soto continued as my Special Adviser on Cyprus. James Holger remains the Acting Special Representative and Chief of Mission until 31 May 2000. I have appointed Zbigniew Wlosowicz as his replacement, with effect from June 2000. Major General Victory Rana was appointed as Force Commander on 16 December 1999, replacing Major General Evergisto de Vergara, who relinquished his post on 15 December.

VII. Financial aspects

17. The General Assembly, by its resolution 53/231 of 8 June 1999, appropriated an amount of $45,630,927 gross for the maintenance of UNFICYP for the 12-month period from 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000. This amount includes the pledged voluntary contributions of one third of the cost of the Force, equivalent to $14,630,810, from the Government of Cyprus and the annual pledge of $6.5 million from the Government of Greece.

18. The proposed budget for the maintenance of the Force for the period from 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001 (A/54/729) is currently under consideration by the General Assembly. Subject to the Assembly’s decision, the cost of maintaining UNFICYP at its current authorized strength is estimated at $41 million gross for the period beginning on 1 July 2000. 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 by the Government of Greece. Therefore, should the Security Council decide to extend the mandate of the Force beyond 15 June 2000, the cost of maintaining the Force would be limited to the amount indicated above.

19. As at 30 April 2000, unpaid assessments to the Special Account for UNFICYP from 16 June 1993 to 15 June 2000 amounted to $17.6 million. Total outstanding assessed contributions for all peacekeeping operations amounted to $2,109.7 million.

VIII. Observations

20. During the past six months, the situation along the ceasefire lines has remained stable. UNFICYP has continued to carry out its mandated tasks with the cooperation of both sides. Two positive developments are worth noting. One is the increase in contacts between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, which are an important factor in improving the political climate on the island. The other development is the welcome decision by the Turkish Cypriot authorities to lift unnecessarily onerous measures affecting visits to the Greek Cypriots and Maronites in the north.

21. Under the current circumstances, the presence of UNFICYP on the island remains indispensable for the maintenance of the ceasefire between the two sides. I therefore recommend that the Security Council extend the mandate of the Force for a further period of six months, until 15 December 2000. I am consulting the parties concerned on the matter and shall report to the Council as soon as the consultations have been completed.

22. In conclusion, I wish to express appreciation for the valuable contributions of my Special Adviser on Cyprus, Mr. de Soto, and the Acting Special Representative and Chief of Mission, Mr. Holger. I also wish to pay tribute to the Force Commander, Major General Rana, 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. I would also like to record my deep appreciation for Ambassador Ritter’s personal commitment and dedication in carrying out his mandate as third member of the Committee of Missing Persons until his death on 17 January 2000.