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UN Force To Remain In Cyprus For 6 Months

UN Force In To Remain In Cyprus For 6 Months During Review Of Future Mandate

The Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) until 15 December, agreeing also to act quickly on recommendations to be made by Secretary-General Kofi Annan after a review of the operation in three months.

Initially deployed in 1964, UNFYCIP has been supervising ceasefire lines on the divided island, maintaining a buffer zone and carrying out humanitarian activities there for decades. In the absence of a political settlement on the Cyprus issue, the Force has been routinely extended for six-month periods.

In April, hopes for a political breakthrough were dashed when Greek Cypriots rejected a plan – accepted by Turkish Cypriots – to reunify the island nation before it joined the European Union in May. Since then, the UN has been holding consultations with both sides on the island and with the guarantor powers: Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

In a report last week to the Council, the Secretary-General said he would conduct a review, to be completed within three months, of UNFICYP’s mandate, force levels and concept of operations, “in the light of developments on the ground, the positions of the parties and any views the Security Council might have.”

Based on this exercise, Mr. Annan said, he will make recommendations on any UNFICYP adjustments or restructuring that may be required. “I remain convinced that, in the absence of a comprehensive settlement, the presence of UNFICYP on the island continues to be necessary for the maintenance of the ceasefire,” he said.

The extension came in a unanimously adopted resolution which also urged the Turkish Cypriot side and the Turkish forces to immediately rescind all remaining restrictions on UNFICYP. They were called on to restore the military status quo which existed in Strovilia – a small hamlet occupied by Greek Cypriots – prior to June 2000, when the forces began controlling UNFYCIP’s access to the area.

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