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UN chief recommends extending UNFICYP mandate for six months
2003-06-02 13:25:11

by Apostolis Zoupaniotis-- United Nations, Jun 2 (CNA) - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has recommended that the Security Council extends the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for a further six months, as he considers its presence on the island ''essential to the maintenance of the ceasefire between the two sides''.

In his report on UNFICYP to the Security Council, covering the period from 15 November 2002 to 20 May 2003, the UN chief stresses that the recent developments in Cyprus and the easing of restrictions of free movement ''are not a substitute for a comprehensive settlement''.

He adds that ''it seems highly unlikely that such a settlement can be achieved without a genuine political commitment to the proposal I put forward and a firm timetable to finalize negotiations as outlined in the recent report on my mission of good offices''.|

''I am therefore pleased with the easing of restrictions and good will displayed between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots; I hope that the two sides will build on that good will by taking further steps to enhance mutual confidence UNFICY is ready to assist them in doing so'', UN chief adds.

Regarding the force's mandate, the report adds that under the current conditions the continuous presence of UNFICYP on the island is considered as necessary for the maintenance of the ceasefire between the two sides.

''I therefore recommend that the Security Council extends the mandate of the force for a further period of six months until Dec 15 2003'', the report states.

UN chief notes that during the past six months the situation along the cease fire lines has remained calm and he furthermore considers it ''regrettable that no progress has been achieved in restoring the status quo ante in the village of Strovilia''.

Regarding the UNFICYP, UN SG welcomes ''the limited easing of restrictions by the Turkish Cypriot authorities of UNFICYP'S movement as a first step'', but urges that UNFICYP be provided unhindered access and full freedom of movement to carry out its mandate throughout its entire area of responsibility.

He also considers it important that UNFICYP is adequately equipped to meet its increased workload and to respond to the needs as they arise.

Referring to his recent report to the Security Council on his efforts between late 1999 and March 11, 2003 to assist the parties to reach a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, UN SG notes that in that report he described in some details the reasons why it did not prove possible to bring the efforts to succeed and outlined his views on the way ahead.

''As stated in that report, the Nicosia office of my special advisor has closed'', the report adds.

Cyprus is divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and since then occupy one third of the island's territory.


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