UN peacekeeping force to stay in Cyprus for another seven months


The Security Council today decided to extend the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus until 19 July 2012, and called on the leadership of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities to accelerate the pace of talks aimed at reunification.

The force, known by its acronym UNFICYP, has been deployed on the island since 1964, when inter-communal fighting erupted.

The UN has been facilitating talks between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leadership with a view to the eventual establishment of a federal government with a single international personality, consisting of a Turkish Cypriot Constituent State and a Greek Cypriot Constituent State, each of equal status. The core issues include governance and power-sharing, economy, European Union matters, property, territory and security, Reuters reports.

In the resolution adopted unanimously today, the Council welcomed the “encouraging” progress made so far in the negotiations, “and the prospect of further decisive progress in the coming months towards a comprehensive and durable settlement that this has created.”

The 15-member body called on the two leaders to intensify the momentum of negotiations, engage in the process in a constructive and open manner, and work on reaching convergences on the remaining core issues in preparation for their meeting with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon next month.

The core issues include governance and power-sharing, economy, European Union matters, property, territory and security.

The last set of talks hosted by Mr. Ban with Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart, Dervis Eroglu, were held on 30 and 31 October, following which the Secretary-General said he was confident that a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus issue can be reached.

The upcoming two-day meeting, which will be held outside New York City at the Greentree conference centre, will be a “more intensive” consultation than previous sessions, Mr. Ban told a year-end press conference at UN Headquarters.
“Cyprus is going to take the presidency of the European Union from 1 January next year, so the window of our opportunity for further progress in negotiations is very much limited,” he noted. “It may be politically difficult and sensitive, when the presidency of the European Union is now going to be part of this. And practically speaking, the presidency of the European Union will be heavily involved in all other European issues.”

Mr. Ban added that both leaders must engage, make progress and accelerate the pace of negotiations ahead of next month’s meeting.