May 14, 2021

S/2000/1138 – Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations operation in Cyprus

United Nations


  Security Council Distr.: General

1 December  1997

Original: English



(for the period from 1 June to 27 November 2000)

I. Introduction

1.        The present report on the United Nations operation in Cyprus covers developments from 1 June to 27 November 2000 and brings up to date the record of 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 1303 (2000) of 14 June 2000.


II.  Activities of the Force


A.  Maintenance of the ceasefire and the military status quo


2.        The military situation along the ceasefire lines remained stable. As in the past, there were numerous provocative actions on both sides, such as shouting taunts, throwing stones and pointing weapons. On occasion, UNFICYP personnel were threatened with cocked weapons and their movement was impeded. The National Guard continued to carry out field works along the ceasefire line. The Turkish forces also carried out minor construction.


3.        Air violations of the United Nations buffer zone by Turkish military aircraft rose to 47, compared with 7 in the same period last year. In addition, on 22 October Turkish military aircraft reportedly came within a little over three nautical miles offshore from the Paphos air base, causing a National Guard air defence element to lock on its radar. Air violations of the buffer zone by military and civilian aircraft from the other side decreased to 10, compared with 18 in the same period last year. This number includes violations by three Greek military aircraft during the annual “Nikiforos” exercise.


4.        On 30 June the Turkish Cypriot authorities and Turkish forces instituted a number of measures against UNFICYP. The main measure was the closure of all crossings of the Turkish forces’ ceasefire line, except for the one at the former Ledra Palace Hotel in Nicosia. In conjunction with existing restrictions on UNFICYP movement in the north, this measure would have completely isolated United Nations troops in three camps in the north and at Strovilia. Three additional crossing points were subsequently reopened to allow access to the camps from the south. The next day the Turkish forces/Turkish Cypriot security forces moved forward of their ceasefire line at Strovilia and have since controlled the access of UNFICYP to its post in this small hamlet, which is inhabited by Greek Cypriots. Since October, the Turkish forces have prevented UNFICYP from moving along the Famagusta-Dherinia road.


5.        The impact of these restrictions has been significant. In sector 1 in the west, including the Kokkina pocket, 10 kilometres of dangerous mountain track have been added to the Mission’s access route. In sector 4 in the east, the drive from the sector headquarters north of Famagusta to the nearest United Nations post in the buffer zone, which previously took 20 minutes, now involves a long detour through Nicosia and takes up to four hours. As a result, the operational effectiveness of UNFICYP has suffered; response times have increased and command, logistic and administrative movements have lengthened significantly.


6.        The Turkish Cypriot authorities have also imposed mandatory additional insurance for United Nations vehicles, which must be obtained from insurance companies in the north, and announced that they would from now on require UNFICYP to pay for electricity and other utilities for its bases in the north. Traditionally, the electricity consumed by UNFICYP in the north came from the south, but an increasing share is now generated in the north. UNFICYP is looking into this matter.


7.        UNFICYP continued to monitor the status quo in the fenced area of Varosha, which continued to change. During the period, the refurbishment of an additional building was completed and work started on two more buildings. The United Nations continues to hold the Government of Turkey responsible for maintaining the status quo in Varosha.


8.        There were frequent crossings of the maritime security line by Greek Cypriot fishing and tourist boats offshore from Dherinia, occasionally triggering warning shots from the Turkish forces. In the north-west, the Turkish forces’ supply boats on their way to and from Kokkina crossed the line on a daily basis, as a result of keeping inshore of the minimum distance of 3,000 metres required by UNFICYP. The maritime security line is the seaward extension of the median of the buffer zone, which vessels of either side are advised, for their own safety, not to cross.


9.        UNFICYP has no precise information about the military strength and armaments on both sides, although it is aware of some new acquisitions and replacement of older equipment during the period. The annual National Guard exercise, “Nikiforos”, took place from 17 to 21 October with Greek elements participating. The annual Turkish forces exercise, “Toros II”, was held from 21 to 23 November.


B.  Restoration of normal conditions and humanitarian functions


10.      Contacts between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots on the island increased in the past six months, including at large public events, such as the Festival of Mutual Understanding organized by political parties in September and the United Nations Day celebration in October. These two events together involved approximately 13,000 people from both sides. Other initiatives ranged from meetings of politicians, youth workshops and a summer school to forums for business representatives, media and teachers. Most gatherings were held at the former Ledra Palace Hotel in Nicosia, which accommodated more than 30 events from June to November, and in other locations in the buffer zone.


11.      UNFICYP continued to carry out its humanitarian tasks in support of the 428 Greek Cypriots and 165 Maronites living in the north and maintained contact with those Turkish Cypriots in the south who have made themselves known to the Force. Regarding the easing of certain restrictions on movement between the two sides, which the Turkish Cypriot authorities announced last May, the crossing fees they had imposed in 1998 have indeed been reduced, from £15 to £1. However, Greek Cypriots seeking to extend their visits to relatives in the Karpas beyond three days have encountered obstacles. The Turkish Cypriot authorities have also been less forthcoming than in the past with respect to crossings arranged by UNFICYP for humanitarian reasons.


12.      UNFICYP assisted various projects in the buffer zone with the cooperation of the local authorities from both sides. Progress was achieved on water supply matters, urban renovation work, use of farmland and roadways and other issues.


13.      From June to December, UNFICYP dealt with more than 400 incidents involving incursions into the buffer zone by civilians, mostly by Greek Cypriot hunters, who were often aggressive and sometimes violent. Others involved misbehaving youth or local villagers or farmers who failed to obtain permits from UNFICYP.


C.  Missing persons


14.      As proposed by the Secretary-General in May, the first assistant to the third member of the Committee on Missing Persons has worked with the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot members to overcome existing obstacles and enable the Committee to reach binding decisions and resume its activities. This effort continues. The first assistant to the third member has remained at the disposal of the two sides to assist them as necessary with the implementation of the agreement on missing persons of 31 July 1997, reached by Glafcos Clerides and Rauf Denktash. Although outside the sphere of the Committee, the agreement represents an important guarantee for the families of the missing persons. The two sides, which are solely responsible for its implementation, in 1998 provided each other with information already at their disposal on the location of graves of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot missing persons. In addition to other unilateral measures, the Greek Cypriot side has undertaken exhumations as well as identification of remains. However, the two sides have not yet been able to work out ad hoc arrangements for the exchange of the remains.


III. Economic and social activities of the United Nations system


15.      The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), through the United Nations Office for Project Services, continued to implement its programme aimed at promoting goodwill by encouraging the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots 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. UNDP and the United Nations Office for Project Services received cooperation from both sides in relation to their work.


IV.  Mission of good offices


16.      Pursuant to Security Council resolution 1250 (1999), proximity talks continued with the two parties, led respectively by Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash. The talks were facilitated on the Secretary-General’s behalf by his Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, who was assisted by a small team of Secretariat and UNFICYP staff and international consultants as required. Three sessions were held: in July/August in Geneva, in September in New York and in October/November again in Geneva. Mr. de Soto also met with the two leaders during visits to Cyprus in June and October and had discussions in Athens and Ankara in June. He is currently visiting the area for further discussions. I have invited Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash to attend further talks in Geneva in late January.


V.  Organizational matters


17.      As at October 2000, UNFICYP comprised 1,210 troops, 34 civilian police and 189 civilian personnel. The military personnel are from Argentina (408), Austria (234), Canada (2), Finland (12), Hungary (112), Ireland (3), the Netherlands (98), Slovenia (29) and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (312). The Argentine contingent includes soldiers from Bolivia (2), Brazil (2), Paraguay (1) and Uruguay (5). The civilian police are provided by Australia (16) and Ireland (18) and, of the civilian staff, 42 are recruited internationally and 147 locally. The Government of Austria has informed me that it intends to withdraw its contingent by September 2001. I am in touch with Governments concerning a replacement.


18.      Mr. de Soto continued as my Special Adviser on Cyprus. On 15 June, Zbigniew Wlosowicz assumed the post of Acting Special Representative and Chief of Mission, following the departure of James Holger. Major General Victory Rana continued as Force Commander.


VI. Financial aspects


19.      The General Assembly, by its resolution 54/270 of 15 June 2000, appropriated an amount of $43,422,065 gross for the maintenance of UNFICYP for the 12-month period from 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001. This amount includes the pledged voluntary contributions of one third of the cost of the Force, equivalent to $13,801,375, from the Government of Cyprus and the annual pledge of $6.5 million from the Government of Greece.


20.      Should the Security Council decide to extend the mandate of UNFICYP for a further period of six months as recommended in paragraph 23 below, the cost of maintaining the Force would be limited to the amount indicated above.


21.      As at 31 October 2000, unpaid assessments to the Special Account for UNFICYP from 16 June 1993 to 31 December 2000 amounted to $22.5 million. Total outstanding assessed contributions for all peacekeeping operations amounted to $2.1 billion. 


VII.   Observations


22.      The situation along the ceasefire lines in Cyprus has remained generally stable. However, the conditions in which UNFICYP operates have become more difficult, owing to the restrictions imposed on it by the Turkish Cypriot authorities and the Turkish forces. My urgent call to rescind the restrictions and to restore the military status quo ante at Strovilia has not, so far, met with a positive response.


23.      In the prevailing circumstances, I continue to consider the presence of UNFICYP essential for the maintenance of the ceasefire on the island. I therefore recommend that the Security Council extend the mandate of the Force for a further period of six months, until 15 June 2001. I am consulting with the parties concerned about the extension and shall inform the Council in due course.


24.      In making this recommendation, I must draw attention to the shortfall in the funding of the Force. At present, unpaid assessments amount to some $22.5 million. This sum represents money owed to the Member States that contribute the troops who make up the Force. I appeal to the Member States to pay their assessments promptly and in full and to clear all remaining arrears.


25.      In conclusion, I wish to pay tribute to Mr. de Soto, my Special Adviser, to Mr. Wlosowicz, the Acting Special Representative and Chief of Mission, to Major General Rana, the Force Commander, and to the men and women serving with UNFICYP for the professionalism and dedication with which they have carried out their duties.