June 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 May 2011
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EUROPE

Cyprus

Expected Council Action
In June, the special representative and head of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), Lisa Buttenheim, will brief the Council in consultations on the Secretary-General’s report due by early June. The Council is expected to renew the mandate of UNFICYP for another half-year.

At press time, it is unclear if the Secretary-General’s report on the good offices mission in Cyprus will be produced prior to the Council meeting in June or be delayed until after his next meeting with the two leaders scheduled for 7 July.

The mandate of the UNFICYP expires on 15 June. 

Key Recent Developments
On 15 March, Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer briefed Council members in consultations on the status of the negotiations in Cyprus. In the briefing, Downer said that talks between the two sides have intensified, yet little substantive progress has been made on the difficult issues of property, territory, security and guarantees. He said that upcoming elections in Cyprus and Turkey might stall progress in the negotiations in the near future.

Since March, the leaders and special representatives of both parties have continued to meet on a regular basis. In a statement to the press on 5 May, Buttenheim said that significant progress was achieved on the issue of international treaties. Convergences have reportedly also been reached on the issues of EU matters and internal security. On the other hand, little progress seems to have been achieved on the core issues of property, territory and shared governance.

On 22 May, the Greek Cypriots held parliamentary elections. The main opposition party, the right-wing Democratic Rally, topped the polls with 34.27 percent of the votes against the ruling left-wing Progressive party of the Working People, which came in second with 32.67 percent. Both parties increased their share of the vote, compared with the corresponding percentage in the 2006 parliamentary elections. The government coalition partner, the Democratic Party, won 15.77 percent of the votes. The biggest surprise was the number of abstentions, reaching 113,282, an unprecedented 21.32 percent. The parliamentary election will not affect the continuation of President Dimitris Christofias’s term of office, which continues until 2013.

The Secretary-General will host a meeting of the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities on 7 July in Geneva.

Cyprus will serve as the president of the EU in the second half of 2012.

Human Rights-Related Developments
In her annual report on human rights in Cyprus, presented at the March session of the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, noted several positive developments in the reporting period, including the opening of a new crossing linking the villages of Limnitis/Ye┼čilirmak in the north and Kato Pyrgos in the south. The opening of this crossing would, she hoped, serve as an important confidence-building measure. Pillay observed, however, that the division of the island continued to constitute an obstacle to the full enjoyment of human rights there. She hoped that the current efforts by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders to negotiate and achieve a comprehensive settlement for Cyprus would help improve the human rights situation there. 

Key Issues
The main issue for the Council in June is the renewal of UNFICYP’s mandate and how, if at all, the status of the talks should impact the reconfiguration of and an eventual exit strategy for, the mission. 

Beyond the renewal of the mandate, the key issue for the Council is how to engage the two sides to achieve speedier and more substantive progress in the reunification talks and in implementing confidence-building measures.

Options
Options for the Council include:

  • renewing the mandate of UNFICYP at its current configuration;
  • including new language encouraging the parties to reach a settlement, emphasising that the process cannot be indefinite, especially in light of key events (elections, Cyprus EU presidency) that may hinder the negotiation process in the next couple of years;
  • encouraging the UN good-offices mission to intensify its support for the talks between the opposing sides in an attempt to bolster their momentum; or
  • including language in the resolution focusing more on possible confidence-building measures.

Council Dynamics
The dynamics of the Council regarding Cyprus continue to be affected by the relationship of various members with the Cypriot parties. Russia, and to some extent France, lean towards the Greek Cypriots, and the UK is more sympathetic to the Turkish Cypriot side.  

Negotiations around the language included in resolutions on UNFICYP have been used in the past to assert pressure on the parties. However, at the moment many Council members feel that this will be of little practical effect, especially since it comes prior to the meeting of the leaders with the Secretary-General in July.

Some members are optimistic that the Secretary-General will be able to use the opportunity of the meeting in Geneva to stimulate the parties to achieve progress. This, accompanied by bilateral pressure, may create a renewed momentum in the talks. Some have hopes for a possible international conference before the end of the year.  Several Council members emphasise that, in light of the failure of the Annan Plan in 2004, both sides bear the responsibility to prepare their communities for the inevitable compromises of an agreed solution and that not enough has been done to address this issue by the parties.

In the latest report on the good offices mission, the Secretary-General reported that it was agreed that international treaties, security and guarantees could be discussed at the conference, but that maps and figures related to territory would be discussed at the last phase of the negotiation process.

The Turkish Cypriots think that such a conference should be attended by the two communities plus Turkey, Greece and the UK (the latter three being the guarantor parties) and convened at the earliest possible opportunity to deal with outstanding issues. The Greek Cypriots would like the conference to be attended in addition by the P5 and the EU and for the Republic of Cyprus to be symbolically represented as such, a position the Turkish Cypriots oppose.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolution

  • S/RES/1953 (14 December 2010) renewed UNFICYP’s mandate until 15 June, urged the leaders of the two sides to “intensify the momentum in the negotiations” and develop “a practical plan for overcoming the major remaining points of disagreement.”

Latest Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2010/605 (26 November 2010) was on UNFICYP.
  • S/2011/112 (4 March 2011) was on the good-offices mission in Cyprus.

Other

  • S/PV.6445 (14 December 2010) was the meeting record of the Council’s adoption of resolution 1953 with Turkey’s explanation of vote.
  • S/2010/570 (2 November 2010) was a letter from Turkey responding to Christofias’ statement in the General Assembly on 24 September.

Other Relevant Facts

UNFICYP: Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission

Lisa M. Buttenheim (USA)

UNFICYP: Force Commander

Maj. Gen. Chao Liu (China)

UNFICYP: Size, Composition, Cost and Duration

Strength (as of 31 December 2010): 922 military personnel, 68 police, 37 international civilian personnel and 113 local civilian staff
Troop contributors: Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Hungary, Paraguay, Peru, Serbia, Slovakia and the UK
Annual Budget: $58 million
Duration: 4 March 1964 to present; mandate expires 15 June

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