Annan calls for six-month extension of UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus
14 November ? Although the situation along the ceasefire lines in Cyprus is stable with "a remarkable low number of incidents" in crossings, only a comprehensive settlement will end the problems and the 40-year-old United Nations peacekeeping force there continues to be necessary, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in his latest report released today.
Calling on the Security Council to renew the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for a further six months, Mr. Annan also notes that the Turkish Cypriot authorities "regrettably" have failed to provide uninhibited access and full freedom of movement and urges them to allow the Force to "carry out its mandate throughout its entire area of responsibility."
Referring to the opening in April by Turkish Cypriot authorities of crossing points for public travel in both directions - the first such opening in almost three decades - he notes that 2 million crossings by Greek Cypriots to the north and Turkish Cypriots to the south have taken place as of 2 November.
Mr. Annan says there is no point in his resuming his latest bid to achieve a solution to the Cyprus problem, which he abandoned in April when efforts to enable a united Cyprus to sign a treaty of accession to the European Union broke down in a stalemate for which he then said the Turkish Cypriot side bore "prime responsibility."
"It remains my position that no purpose would be served by renewing my mission of good offices unless there were a readiness on the part of both Cypriot parties, as well as Greece and Turkey, to finalize negotiations, with United Nations assistance, on the basis of the revised proposal that I presented to the parties and the guarantor powers on 26 February 2003, and to put the resulting agreement to separate simultaneous referendums within a short time thereafter," he writes.
"However, I am continuing to monitor developments in Cyprus closely, and I wish to assure the Council that, should the appropriate opportunity to finalize the plan present itself I stand ready to re-engage," he adds.
In his concluding observations, he reiterates his belief "that only the achievement of a comprehensive settlement will bring an end to the Cyprus problem. In the absence of such a comprehensive settlement, the presence of UNFICYP on the island continues to be necessary for the maintenance of the ceasefire," he adds.
"I therefore recommend that the Security Council extend the mandate of the Force for a further period of six months, until 15 June 2004."
Among its various duties, UNFICYP monitors the ceasefire lines, which extend some 180 kilometres across the island. The buffer zone varies in width from under 20 metres to some 7 kilometres and covers 3 per cent of the terrain. Surveillance is maintained through a system of observation posts, as well as through air, vehicle and foot patrols.