Despite Reservations, Cyprus UN Peacekeepers Set for Renewal

January 29, 2020

NICOSIA – A long-standing United Nations Peacekeeping Force (UNFICYP) on the divided island of Cyprus looks okay for an automatic renewal although there was hesitation by the legitimate government over a draft tying it to cooperation with occupying Turkish-Cypriots.

Turkey has occupied the northern third since a 1974 invasion but the UNFICYP goes back earlier to a time of other conflicts on the island which has had a long history of division and rebellion, including when it was a colony of the United Kingdom.

The Cypriot government, said Kathimerini Cyprus, didn’t want to be seen as cooperating with Turkey’s self-declared Republic on the occupied side which isn’t recognized by any other country the world.

The last round of reunification talks between the sides collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said their army would stay and as they demanded the right of further military intervention.

UNFICYP has routinely and automatically been renewed every six months for decades although there’s not been a hint of trouble along the Green Line that divides the capital if Nicosia, despite fears there could be a conflict again over Turkish drilling for energy in Cypriot sovereign waters.

Unidentified diplomatic sources in New York, where the UN is located, reportedly pointed out the latest draft had changed in Cyprus’s favor, the paper said, the proposal drawing from the last mandate renewal resolution in July 2018.

Russia broke silence – saying nothing allows the mandate to go ahead quietly – over language on peacekeeping performance, while daily Phileleftheros reported China had raised concerns over technicalities.

In previous UNFICYP renewals, the United States have been taking the initiative to emphasize the need for peacekeeping missions to support political processes, calling on the Council to reexamine mandates of missions where progress on the political track was absent, the report added.

Some UN Security Council members have also said there’s need of a more clear comprehensive review of UNFICYP without explaining why, and as the UN’s Special Envoy to Cyprus, American diplomat Jane Holl Lute hasn’t made any reunification talks headway.

It is expected that the final text will include a request to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who presided over the Swiss failed talks, to explain “how all UN activities in Cyprus can be best configured to advance political progress while preserving stability,” according to reports.

UNFICYP, comprising military and civilian personnel from various contributing countries, arrived in Cyprus in March 1964 following intercommunal fighting. The mandate is expected to be renewed before a Jan. 31 expiration.


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