Saying the situation in Cyprus was calm but "progress toward a political solution remains negligible at best," United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today recommended that the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force there be extended for six-months, under its present authorized strength.
"I continue to believe that only the achievement of a comprehensive settlement will bring an end to the Cyprus problem," Mr. Annan says in a report to the Security Council, which recommends that the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), set to expire on 16 December, be extended through 16 June 2006.
During the reporting period, he says the opening of additional crossing points and small increases in trade between the two sides have enhanced opportunities for people-to-people contact, and UNFICYP continued to enjoy generally good cooperation from both sides.
At the same time, however, each side was attempting to alter the status quo to its advantage, whether in the form of new construction or incursions of personnel into the buffer zone, he says.
He adds that he does not believe that the time is ripe to appoint a full-time representative because, while calls have come from all concerned for the resumption of negotiations, the conditions need to be clarified.
Meanwhile, the UNFICYP chief will continue to act as his representative on the ground. He will also, when necessary, dispatch a senior Secretariat official to visit Cyprus, Greece and Turkey to assess the situation.
Official contacts between the two parties have not resumed since the April 2004 referendum on a comprehensive settlement plan failed. About 65 per cent of Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of the plan, while 76 per cent of Greek Cypriots voted against it.
In October 2004, following both the referendum and over eight years of an improved security climate, the Council accepted Mr. Annan's proposal to restructure UNFICYP, cutting the military component from 1,224 to 860 and increasing the deployment of UN civilian police, which then stood at 45 and has yet to reach the mandated ceiling of 69.
In the new report Mr. Annan recommends keeping the Force in its reconfigured strength, since it has not led to deterioration in the overall security situation.