December 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 November 2007
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EUROPE

Cyprus

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), due to expire on 15 December, for six months. A report from the Secretary-General is due by 3 December.

Key Recent Developments
The political stalemate in Cyprus continues. None of the technical committees or bicommunal working groups planned in the 8 July 2006 agreement between Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders (S/2006/572) has been established.

On 5 September, Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat met and agreed on the need to start implementing the 8 July agreement soon and to continue contacts through the UN. However, the Turkish leader later denounced Greek Cypriots for not being “psychologically ready to start full-fledged negotiations” while President Papadopoulos accused the other side of trying to change the terms of the 8 July agreement.

President Papadopoulos met Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon later in September. It seems that Ban asked him to submit ideas on how to speed up the process and proposed that the parties discuss confidence-building measures. But President Papadopoulos indicated on 17 October that confidence-building measures should only be addressed in parallel to discussions on “basic aspects of the Cyprus problem.”

Mehmet Ali Talat met the Secretary-General on 16 October and urged him to attempt more actively to restart the talks. Talat proposed a package of confidence-building measures (S/2007/625). After the meeting, the Secretary-General said that without firm commitment from both sides, it would be difficult for him to take new initiatives.

In June, the Secretary-General noted that “the value added” of UNFICYP was being increasingly questioned by international actors in the absence of significant progress in the political process and that both leaders needed to bring to an end the ongoing mutual recriminations.

In resolution 1758 of 15 June, which renewed the mandate of UNFICYP for six months, the Council said that the responsibility for finding a solution lied foremost with the Cypriots. It expressed support for the 8 July 2006 agreement, and called on the parties to immediately engage constructively with the UN to allow full-fledged negotiations.

In October, the UK signed a strategic agreement with Turkey on cooperation on terrorism, cultural and economic support and EU accession. Cyprus stated on 24 October that the agreement promoted separate relations of the Turkish Cypriot “secessionist entity” with the rest of the world and was a negative development that could undermine the implementation of the 2006 agreement.

In Cyprus, the UNFICYP de-mining team appears to have made progress. However, the team has been unable to continue in Turkish fields because the Turkish army has not yet agreed to sign a de-mining protocol with the UN.

Options
If the Council wants simply to maintain the status quo, it could:

  • renew UNFICYP for another six months and urge the parties to implement the 8 July 2006 agreement; and
  • call for the implementation of confidence-building measures, particularly regarding the opening of the Ledra crossing.

But if it wishes to press the parties more proactively to reengage, it could:

  • request the Secretary-General to review the UNFICYP mandate with a view of a future downsizing of troops; or
  • request the Secretary-General to propose new initiatives as options after consulting with the parties.

Key Issues
The main issue is whether this is an appropriate time for the Council to seek further progress, given that the next presidential elections in Cyprus are scheduled in February 2008.

A related issue is whether the same constraints should limit the Secretary-General undertaking a more proactive role.

In the medium-term, an issue is whether the threat of a UNFICYP drawdown would actually serve as leverage. Some see a withdrawal of UNFICYP as impacting mostly the Greek Cypriots but others dispute that view.

Council Dynamics
The UK tends to take the lead on Cyprus. UNFICYP resolutions are usually discussed among the P5 before being shared with the rest of the Council. In June, some, including South Africa and Indonesia, expressed frustration at being kept outside the loop.

Within the P5, Russia and France have generally supported the Greek Cypriots. The UK and the US usually seek more balanced language. China supports the UN-sponsored process and has said that it is up to the parties to resume full-fledged negotiations.

It seems that the general mood is to continue to call for the implementation of the 8 July agreement. Some, especially France, seem willing to emphasise the need to resume talks regardless of the upcoming elections in Cyprus.

UN Documents

Latest Council Resolution

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Selected Letters

  • S/2007/649 (1 October 2007) was a letter from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) reacting to President Papadopoulos’ speech to the General Assembly high-level debate on 26 September.
  • S/2007/625 (19 October 2007) was a letter from the TRNC transmitting proposals for confidence-building measures.
  • S/2006/572 (25 July 2006) was the letter from the Secretary-General transmitting the 8 July agreement.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission

Michael Møller (Denmark)

Force Commander

Major General Rafael José Barni (Argentina)

Size and Composition of Mission (as of 31 October 2007)

  • Strength: 922 total uniformed personnel, including 860 troops and 62 police.
  • Contributors of military and police personnel: Argentina (including soldiers from Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Peru), Australia, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, El Salvador, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovakia and the UK

Cost

  • 1 July 2007-30 June 2008: $48.85 million (including voluntary contributions of one-third from Cyprus and $6.5 million from Greece)

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