June 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 26 May 2006
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EUROPE

Cyprus

Expected Council Action
On 15 June, the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) will expire. The Council is expected to renew the mandate for an additional six months, but pressure for a further downsizing of the mission is growing. 

Options
The Council will adopt a resolution extending UNFICYP’s mandate for another six months. Options as to the future include:

  • deciding in June to reduce the troop levels, perhaps by phasing out the formed units in favour of a small number of military observers;
  • delaying the decision on troop reduction for a short period, but requesting a report from the Secretary-General on the modalities; or
  • urging the Secretary-General to consider appointing a special envoy to explore options for resuming the political talks between the parties.

Council Dynamics
Interest in further downsizing UNFICYP is expected to continue. Replacing troops with military observers is likely to be the next proposal. A small number of observers would produce an overall saving-despite the fact that in general observers are more expensive. However, there will be supporters in the Council for retaining the status quo. It is likely to be a controversial issue.

By contrast, there is unlikely to be much appetite for discussion of the underlying political issue.

Recent Developments
The situation in Cyprus has been calm.  It seems that the aerial incident on 23 May involving Greek and Turkish jet fighters has not affected the situation. In his last report, the Secretary-General stated that force reductions in 2005 had not led to any deterioration in the overall security situation.

Turkey presented a proposal in January for the lifting of restrictions on Cyprus. The proposal was rejected by the Greek Cypriot side, saying that the concessions offered were already obligations Turkey had undertaken towards the European Union.

The US and the UK have both recently tried to test the water on Cyprus at high levels in the course of visits to the area by the UK Foreign Secretary and US Secretary of State.  US Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza stated that the US hopes UN negotiations on Cyprus can resume soon.  Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is expected to visit Turkey on 31 May, recently warned against “attempts to gain advantage unilaterally” in the Cyprus conflict and advocated “practical steps to fine-tune normal daily ties between the two sides on the island […] in the framework of the United Nations Security Council”.

Greek Cypriots seem to remain resistant to any initiatives on substantive issues by the UN or other third parties. The Secretary-General seems to believe that there would be no value in personally launching a new high-level political reconciliation process at this point. He has nevertheless urged the sides to resume contact and “to begin to think about how to re-engage in the search for a comprehensive settlement”. In February the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots agreed to resume talks, which have been suspended for over two years, in order to discuss technical issues of common concern. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General Michael Moeller is currently attempting to facilitate an agreement between the parties on the modalities of these discussions, hoping that they can work as a confidence building measure preparing the ground for future full scale negotiations.

In May 2006, the Democratic Party of Tassos Papadopoulos strengthened its position in the parliament during the in the first parliamentary elections since the Annan plan was rejected in 2004. The only two parties in favour of the Annan Plan, the Democratic Rally (DISY) and The United Democrats (EDI), both suffered significant setbacks in the elections.

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari is planning a trip to Cyprus, but the timing of the visit is not yet settled. This could present an opportunity for exploring reactions to the possibility of the Secretary-General appointing a Special Envoy.

The Secretary-General has previously stated that “if Greek Cypriots remain willing to resolve the Cyprus problem through a bicommunal, bizonal federation, this needs to be demonstrated” (S/2004/437).  President Papadopoulos (the Greek Cypriot leader) recently insisted that his interpretation of this meant it would also need to provide for “reunification”.  (A detailed explanation was sent to the Council on 15 May (S/2006/300).) The Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat complained, in a letter of 9 May to the Council by Turkey (S/2006/286), that the Greek Cypriot leadership was opposing settlement parameters outlined by the UN.

For historical background and more details, please consult our December 2005 Monthly Forecast.

Selected UN Documents

 Latest Security Council Resolution
  • S/RES/1642 (14 December 2005) extended the mandate of UNFICYP until 15 June 2006.
 Latest Secretary-General’s Report
  • S/2006/315 (23 May 2006) recommended a six-month extension of UNFICYP and urged the parties to resume contact.
  • S/2005/743 and corr.1 (29 November 2005) recommended that the Council extend the mandate of UNFICYP until 15 June 2006.
 Letters to the Secretary-General
  • S/2006/300 (15 May 2006) was the letter from Cyprus explaining the views of Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos.
  • S/2006/286 (9 May 2006) was the letter from Turkey transmitting a letter from the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, criticising the Greek Cypriot leader Tassos Papadopoulos for opposing a bizonal and bicommunal solution to the Cyprus conflict.
  • S/2006/91 (10 February 2006) was the letter from the Secretary-General appointing Major General Rafael José Barni  of Argentina as Force Commander of UNFICYP.
  • S/2006/82 (7 February 2006) was the letter from Cyprus rejecting the Turkish plan.
  • S/2006/72 (2 February 2006) was the letter from Turkey transmitting a letter from the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat expressing his full support to the action plan announced by Turkey.
  • S/2006/48 (25 January 2006) was the letter from Turkey presenting an “action plan on lifting of restrictions in Cyprus.”

Other Relevant Facts

 Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Chief of Mission
 Michael Møller (Denmark)
 Force Commander
 Major General Rafael José Barni (Argentina)
 Size and Composition of Mission
 Total authorised strength as of 31 March 2006: 905 total uniformed personnel, including 836 troops and 69 police; supported by 37 international civilian personnel and 115 local civilian staff.
 Cost (approved budget)
 1 July 2005 – 30 June 2006: $46.51 million (gross), including voluntary contributions of a one-third share from Cyprus and $6.5 million from Greece

Full forecast