June 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 May 2007
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EUROPE

Cyprus

Expected Council Action

The Secretary-General’s next report on Cyprus is due by 1 June. The mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) expires on 15 June. The Council is expected to renew it for an additional six months. Significant Council action on the Cyprus situation remains unlikely. However, members may be keen to quietly encourage some intensification of action by the Secretary-General.

Key Recent Developments
The political stalemate in Cyprus continues. At press time, none of the committees and working groups planned in the 8 July agreement has been established. This agreement was signed last year by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders in the presence of then Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari. 

In his last report to the Council in December, former Secretary-General Kofi Annan blamed both Turkish and Greek Cypriots for the impasse. He said that the two sides had to “show the necessary good will and determination to overcome their apparent deep mutual distrust and suspicion of each other’s true motives.” (See our December Forecast  for more details.)

On 8 March, Greek Cypriots dismantled a part of the wall on the “green line” at the southern end of Ledra Street in the capital Nicosia. On 27 March, a Council press statement welcomed this decision and urged the immediate implementation of the 2006 agreement on the bi-communal working groups and technical committees. This had no impact on the ground. Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos made it clear that the Ledra Street crossing would not be opened unless Turkish troops stationed on the other side withdrew.

According to an intercommunal survey conducted by UNFICYP on 24 April, a federal settlement is the only proposal that would have majority support in both communities, and they both accept the 8 July 2006 agreement. However, mutual suspicions between the leadership of the communities continue to be the core problem for a political solution, despite the opening of crossing points. The poll also found that a majority of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots believe that the UN favours the other community.

Options
The Council has the following options:

  • renewing UNFICYP for another six months and urging the parties to implement the 8 July agreement;
  • requesting the Secretary-General to proceed with a review of the UNFICYP mandate with a view of a future troop-downsizing; and
  • requesting the Secretary-General to appoint a mediator, as suggested by Kofi Annan during his last press conference while in office.

Key Issues
The main issue is for the Council to find ways to break the current political stalemate while being perceived as neutral by both sides. Council action will be influenced by whether the Secretary-General in his report considers that the process agreed in July is still a viable option or whether he recommends another initiative. His position was unknown at press time.

An important issue is the negative perceptions harboured by both sides which hamper implementation of the 8 July agreement. Greek Cypriots attach importance to the issue of territorial property in Northern Cyprus and want to address it in technical committees. On the other hand, they seem to believe that Turkish Cypriots are delaying the process on purpose because of their wish to resume negotiations on the basis of the 2004 “comprehensive settlement plan”-a bi-zonal, bi-communal solution rejected by the Greek Cypriots in a referendum.

This stalled process is a key obstacle especially since Council members insist that the responsibility to move the process forward lies primarily with Cypriots themselves. As a result there are few instruments of leverage over the parties to resume negotiations.

The issue of further reducing UNFICYP’s troop strength has been discussed in the past but seems unlikely to be explored again at this time.

Council and Wider Dynamics
France and Russia are viewed as traditional supporters of the Greek Cypriots, whereas the UK and the US seem to want a better balance for the Turkish Cypriots. Downsizing UNFICYP, which is seen as detrimental by the Greek Cypriots, is not supported by France and Russia. Moreover, the UN Secretariat seems to have concerns that a further shrinking of UNFICYP would hamper its ability to fulfil its mandate. There is a wide consensus that the 8 July agreement should be implemented, as it is the only political process currently available.

Underlying Problems
After Cyprus joined the EU in 2004, Turkey signed a protocol extending its EU customs union agreement to the ten new EU member states, but stressed that this did not amount to a formal recognition of the Republic of Cyprus, and refused to open its ports and airports to Greek Cypriots.

The political situation in both Cyprus and Turkey may be contributing factors which will make it difficult to open negotiations. Greek Cypriot presidential elections will take place in February 2008. Current political difficulties in Turkey will not make it easy for leaders to devote time and political capital to solutions.

Selected UN Documents

 Latest Council Resolution
  • S/RES/1728 (15 December 2006) extended the mandate of UNFICYP until 15 June 2007 and called for the completion of a preparatory phase for a good offices process.
Selected Secretary-General’s Reports
  • S/2006/931 (1 December 2006) was the last report on Cyprus.
  • S/2004/437 (28 May 2004) was the last report on the Secretary-General’s good offices in Cyprus.
Selected Letter
  • S/2006/572 (25 July 2006) was the letter from the Secretary-General transmitting the 8 July agreement.

Historical Background

December 2006

Secretary-General Kofi Annan proposed the appointment of a high-level mediator.

15 November 2006

Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari wrote to leaders recommending a timetable to implement the 8 July agreement.

8 July 2006

UN-sponsored talks between Cyprus President Tassos Papadopolous and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat led to an agreement on confidence-building measures and contacts between the two communities.

3 October 2005

Turkey’s accession negotiations to the European Union began.

1 May 2004

The Republic of Cyprus, without its Turkish northern part, joined the EU. The Secretary-General ceased its good offices.

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 percent while the Greek south rejected it by 75.8 percent.

April 2003

The “green line” opened between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

November 2002

Secretary-General Kofi Annan presented a comprehensive settlement plan for Cyprus that envisaged a federation with two constituent parts.

1983

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was self-proclaimed and immediately declared illegal by the Council in resolution 541. It was only recognised by Turkey.

1974

A coup d’état by Greek army officers 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. The” green line” became impassable.

4 March 1964

Resolution 186 established UNFICYP with a mandate to prevent a recurrence of fighting between the two communities. A “green line” of demarcation dividing Nicosia was established. 

1963 

Constitutional rule in Cyprus collapsed in the wake of inter-communal strife.

1960

 Cyprus gained independence from the UK after Greek and Turkish communities agreed to share power. A Treaty of Guarantee gave the UK, Greece and Turkey the right to intervene.

 

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 (as of 31 March 2007)
  • 915 total uniformed personnel, including 850 troops and 65 police; supported by 36 international civilian personnel and 104 local civilian staff
  • Key contributors: Argentina, Austria, Canada, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia and UK
  • Police contributors: Argentina, Australia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, El Salvador, India, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands
Cost (approved budget)
1 July 2006-30 June 2007: $46.27 million (gross), including voluntary contributions of a one-third share from Cyprus and $6.5 million from Greece


Useful Additional Sources
The Cyprus Stalemate: What Next? International Crisis Group, Europe Report No. 171, 8 March 2006


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