December 2005 Monthly Forecast

Posted 23 November 2005
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Cyprus (UNFICYP)

Expected Council Action
On 15 December 2005, the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) will expire, and the Council is expected to renew the mandate for an additional six months.

Key Facts
Following several months of good offices by the Secretary-General, including a three-phase process of negotiations between the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots, the “Foundation Agreement of the Comprehensive Settlement of the Cyprus Problem” proposed by the Secretary-General, was submitted to separate simultaneous referenda on 24 April 2004. The plan called for a bi-zonal, bi-communal independent state and required approval on both sides to enter into force. While the Turkish Cypriots widely voted in favour of the settlement proposal, the Greek Cypriots rejected it, subsequently entering the European Union as a divided island. The Secretary-General’s good offices ended as a result of this stalemate.

The negotiation process remains stalled. Urged by the Secretary-General, the Greek Cypriots in May 2005 presented their position on what should be altered in the Annan plan. Sir Kieran Prendergast, then Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said in June that a big gap between the two communities remained.

On 3 October 2005, Turkey began accession talks with the European Union.

The September 2004 report of the Secretary-General led to a modification of the size, composition and conception of UNFICYP. Its political and civil affairs branch was expanded. The military force was reduced and the military concept of operations was recast as “concentration with mobility.”

Key Issues
The only immediate issue for Council Members is whether the size of UNFICYP should be further diminished and the concept of operation further reshaped.

Council Dynamics
Some Council members believe that UNFICYP should remain as long as Cyprus is divided. Others consider that with the reduced risk of conflict, an additional reduction of its military component is possible. Supporters of the status quo will argue that the military component cannot be further downsized without altering the mandate.

The United States has expressed strong interest in eliminating peacekeeping forces where the violence levels are low but the negotiating process is stalled. It remains to be seen whether the United States will advance UNFICYP as a candidate for its proposed review process.

Another important aspect of the Council dynamic will be that Greece, which has traditionally been a very strong supporter of the Greek Cypriot position, is a Council member through 2006.  Russia also leans to the Greek Cypriot position, and this forms a stronger than usual lobby in the Council in support of the status quo.

Council Members might consider the option of modifying the mandate of UNFICYP in order to replace the troops with military observers.

Another option which might be a possible compromise between those who want to retain UNFICYP at current levels and those who are keen to see some incentives for further progress in negotiations might be for the Council to reactivate the recommendation by the Secretary-General in his 28 May 2004 report that the Council should address the issue of the “unnecessary restrictions and barriers that have the effect of isolating the Turkish Cypriots and impeding their development.”

Underlying Problems
The parties now face the reality that the Turkish Cypriots will not easily be persuaded to renegotiate a plan that they have already approved by referendum. Accordingly, a new process of negotiation remains to be found.

In time, it is likely that it will fall to the United Nations to find ways to bring the parties back to the negotiating table. However, the Secretary-General is reluctant to commit resources to the issue until the parties give him some grounds for confidence that there is real commitment to the process.

Increasingly, it seems that without an ongoing peace process, support for UNFICYP will likely erode further over time.

UN Documents

 Selected Resolutions
  •  S/RES/1604 (15 June 2005)
  •  S/RES/1568 (22 October 2004) endorsed the recommended changes to the concept of operations and force level of UNFICYP.
  •  S/RES/1548 (11 June 2004) welcomed the Secretary-General’s intention to conduct a review of the UNFICYP mandate.
  •  S/RES/1251 (29 June 1999) expressed concern about the military build-up on both sides.
  •  S/RES/939 (29 July 1994) requested the Secretary-General to start consultations.
  •  S/RES/550 (11 May 1984) further condemned Northern Cyprus.
  •  S/RES/541 (18 November 1983) invalidated the creation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
  •  S/RES/186 (4 March 1964) established UNFICYP.
 Most recent Secretary-General’s Reports on UNFICYP
  • S/2005/353 (27 May 2005)
  • S/2004/756 (24 September 2004) recommended a review of the mandate, force levels and concept of operations of UNFICYP.
  • S/2004/427 (26 May 2004)
  • S/2004/302 (16 April 2004)
 Most recent Secretary-General’s Reports on his Mission of Good Offices in Cyprus
  •  S/PV.5211 (22 June 2005) Briefing to the Council by Kieran Prendergast on the situation of the negotiation process in Cyprus

 Historical Background

 3 October 2005 Turkey’s accession negotiations to the EU began.
 30 May 2005 With the aim of examining the possibilities for the resumption of a new dialogue on the Cyprus issue, Prendergast went to Cyprus. He briefed the Council on his conclusions on 22 June.
 1 May 2004 The Republic of Cyprus, without its Turkish northern part, joined the EU.
 24 April 2004 The Annan Settlement Plan on uniting the island was subject to a twin-referendum. The Turkish north accepted the plan by 64.9% while the Greek south rejected it by 75.8%.
 April 2003 The cross island’s dividing “green line” opened. 
 November 2002 Secretary-General Kofi Annan presented a comprehensive peace plan for Cyprus that envisaged a federation with two constituent parts, presided over by a rotating presidency.  
 January 2002 Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, and the leader of Turkish Cypriots, Rauf Denktash, began UN-sponsored negotiations to reunify the island.
 1983 Foundation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was self-proclaimed and immediately declared illegal by the Council in resolution 541 (1983).
 1974 A coup d’état by the Greek army officers stationed on the island overthrew the president of Cyprus. A subsequent Turkish military intervention led to a division of Cyprus into a Turkish Cypriot north and a Greek Cypriot south.
 4 March 1964 Resolution 186 established UNFICYP with a mandate to prevent a recurrence of fighting between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities.
 1963 Constitutional rule in Cyprus collapsed in the wake of intercommunal strife.
 1960 Republic of Cyprus founded by the Turkish and Greek communities who shared power.

Other relevant facts

 Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Chief of Mission
 Michael Møller (Denmark)
 Force Commander
 Major-General Herbert Joaquín Figoli Almandos (Uruguay)
 Size and Composition of Mission
  • 1,008 total uniformed personnel, including 949 troops and 59 police; supported by 36 international civilian personnel and 110 local civilian staff
  • Major troop contributors: UK, Argentina, Slovakia, Hungary
Cost (approved budget)
 1 July 2005 – 30 June 2006: $46.51 million (gross), including voluntary contributions of one-third share from Cyprus and $6.5 million from Greece
Full forecast