Faced with the lack of a comprehensive political settlement in Cyprus and concerned about the attitudes of both sides, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today recommended a further six-month extension in the mandate of the UN mission that has been deployed on the island for over four decades.
In his latest report to the Security Council, covering the last six months, Mr. Annan said that while the situation remained “calm and stable with no major violations of the ceasefire lines,” he regretted the continued stalemate in the political process and the “missed opportunities” over the past 10 years.
“In the absence of a comprehensive settlement, I believe that UNFICYP (UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus) continues to play a vital role, and I therefore recommend that the Security Council extend the mandate of the Force by a further period of six months, until 15 June 2007,” he said. The current mandate expires on 15 December.
The Secretary-General also voiced concern about the “increasing pressure from the civilian population, particularly the Greek Cypriots, to undertake and expand construction projects in the buffer zone, a trend that could undermine security conditions… At the same time, the trend towards increased construction on the Turkish Cypriot side is a cause of concern.”
Mr. Annan stressed that the continued involvement of the international community in Cyprus, through the presence of UNFICYP “should not be taken for granted,” as he urged both sides to come together for dialogue.
“Both leaders may wish to refocus and redouble their efforts… the responsibility lies primarily with the Cypriots themselves. The United Nations remains committed to lending a helping hand, but it is no substitute for genuine political will on the part of all concerned to reach a comprehensive settlement.”
The UN has been involved in the Mediterranean island since March 1964 when UNFICYP was set up to prevent further fighting between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. It monitors ceasefire lines that extend some 180 kilometres across the island, maintains a buffer zone and has also helped restore law and order.