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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 10-11-30

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has recommended that the mandate of UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) be extended for six months, until 15 June 2011.

    In his report on the United Nations Operation in Cyprus that will be issued as a document of the UN Security Council, which covers developments from 21 May 2010 to 20 November 2010, Ban noted that during the reporting period, the situation in the buffer zone remained calm and relations between UNFICYP and the opposing forces remained good and cooperative.

    The overall number of violations has declined. Low-level exercises near the cease fire lines unnecessarily cause tensions and should be avoided, Ban said and expressed hope that discussions on military confidence-building measures initiated by UNFICYP will enjoy the support and cooperation of both opposing forces and produce tangible results.

    Such a development would provide the best possible backdrop to the on-going negotiations, he noted.

    Ban said that both communities have continued to rely on UNFICYPs assistance in areas ranging from humanitarian, social and economic matters to a variety of bi-communal issues affecting the everyday lives of Cypriots and UNFICYP continued to work closely with the two communities in solving practical day-to-day issues, including the civilian use of the buffer zone. These efforts are important in building confidence and positive relations between the communities, and I call on both sides to continue to support UNFICYP in this regard, Ban underlined.

    He noted that UNFICYP has been instrumental in facilitating cooperation between the sides in the field of cultural heritage and crime and criminal matters, including the implementation of concrete measures agreed in the respective Technical Committees. In the area of cultural heritage, it is important that all parties lend their full support to the implementation of agreed measures aimed at preserving the rich common cultural heritage of Cyprus, he said. He welcomed the increase in exchange of information between the two sides with regard to crime and criminal matters, not only as a reflection of a growing mutual trust but also as a significant contribution towards producing tangible results for the common security of all Cypriots.

    Referring to the opening of the Limnitis crossing point, Ban said that this important and long-awaited development is a tangible confidence-building measure and will improve the daily life of many Cypriots. The creation of a joint committee to consider the establishment of other crossing points is a welcome sign of political will to bring the communities closer together. It is important that efforts in this direction be pragmatic and results-oriented, with a view to enabling further social and economic interaction between the two sides, Ban noted.

    He reiterated his view that the establishment of economic, social, cultural, sporting or similar ties and contacts will have a positive impact on the ongoing negotiations. Such contacts nurture a sentiment of trust between the communities and help address the concerns of isolation expressed by the Turkish Cypriots. Further, greater economic and social parity between the sides will make the eventual reunification not only easier but also more likely. In the context of an internationally sanctioned peace process, efforts in the opposite direction can only be counterproductive, Ban noted.

    He expressed satisfaction that the humanitarian work of the Committee on Missing Persons continues largely unhindered and urged all parties concerned to continue all efforts to prevent the work of the Committee from being politicized.

    He also underlined that complete access to military areas in the north for the purposes of exhumations remains crucial and urged the Turkish Forces to adopt a more forthcoming approach, given the humanitarian dimension of the issue.

    With regard to the de-mining in the buffer zone he said that having continued apace and now nearing completion, is at a critical juncture. Access to the last four mined areas in the buffer zone has not yet been granted by the National Guard or the Turkish Forces, he noted and called upon the parties to release those areas so that a mine-free buffer zone may be delivered for all Cypriots within the time frame of the current project. The United Nations stands ready to further assist the parties in their aspiration to achieve a mine-free Cyprus.

    It is my firm belief that UNFICYP continues to play an important role on the island, all the more so at this sensitive juncture of the talks. The Mission works closely with the Office of my Special Advisor and other United Nations agencies and programmes, which are actively engaged in promoting an atmosphere conducive for the negotiations. I recommend, therefore, that the Security Council extend the mandate of UNFICYP for six months, until 15 June 2011, Ban continued.

    He said that in line with the Security Councils requests, most recently in resolution 1930 (2010), the Secretariat will remain engaged in contingency planning in relation to the settlement. The planning will continue in a flexible manner and will be guided by developments in the negotiations and the views of the parties on the possible role of the United Nations in this respect, Ban noted.

    He said that he shall continually keep the operations of UNFICYP under close review, taking into account developments on the ground and the views of the parties, and shall revert to the Council with recommendations, as appropriate, for further adjustments to the UNFICYP mandate, force levels and concept of operations as soon as warranted. Further, and as I informed the Council in my report dated 24 November 2010 (S/2010/603), I plan, in the coming months, to conduct a broader assessment of the United Nations presence in Cyprus, with a view to recommending ways to further adjust to ongoing developments, Ban added.

    He said that the overall number of military violations committed by the opposing forces during the reporting period has decreased compared to the previous reporting period and has fallen to the lowest level in some years. The opposing forces continue sporadically to employ low level measures which provoke a reaction from the other side, mostly in the centre of Nicosia, he added, noting that these incidents appear to be related to ill-discipline rather than a reflection of policy.

    Regarding the military confidence-building measures proposed by UNFICYP, such as the unmanning and/or closing of observation posts in areas where the opposing troops are particularly close to one another, Ban noted that to date the National Guard has worked with UNFICYP on assessing this proposal. He reiterated that UNFICYP is still waiting for concrete steps to be taken by the Turkish Forces/Turkish Cypriot Security Forces in this regard and underlined that UNFICYP remains committed to reducing tension and military presence in the area of the buffer zone through the implementation of military confidence-building measures, but this requires support from both sides.

    As regards demining activity in the buffer zone, Ban said that 70 of 73 minefields released to UNFICYP have been cleared, with more than 25,500 mines removed and 9.5 square kilometres cleared of mines. Of the 13 mined areas released to UNFICYP by the Turkish Forces immediately prior to his last report, as Ban noted, nine of which were inside and four outside the buffer zone, ten have been cleared. Clearance of the remaining fields is scheduled to be completed by the end of December 2010.

    Ban underlined that with the exception of one remaining Turkish Forces minefield south of Varosha and three National Guard minefields in the Laroujina pocket, all minefields within the buffer zone will have been cleared by the end of 2010.

    The UN Secretary General also said that during the reporting period, UNFICYP recorded over 750,000 official crossings through the buffer zone, including over 10,000 at Limnitis. During the period between May and October, goods worth approximately 537,731 euro crossed from the south to the north, and goods worth approximately 3,326,000 euro crossed in the opposite direction, which is similar to the levels reported for the same period in 2009.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Talks are underway with an aim to reunify the island.


    The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, namely President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, will be holding a new meeting on December 6, in the context of direct negotiations to solve the Cyprus problem.

    The meeting will take place at the Chief of Mission`s Residence inside the UN Protected Area, according to Spokesperson for the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) Rolando Gomez.

    Furthermore, the representatives of the leaders will meet on December 1 and 2.

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