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Cyprus: UN peacekeeping mission extended for another six months

14 December 2009 – The Security Council today renewed for another six months the 45-year-old United Nations peacekeeping mission in Cyprus, citing “a rare opportunity to make decisive progress in a timely fashion” to reunify the Mediterranean island after a history of fighting between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities.

In a resolution adopted by 14 votes to one, with only Turkey opposing, the 15-member body strongly urged the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders “to increase the momentum in the negotiations to ensure the full exploitation of this opportunity to reach a comprehensive settlement based on a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality.”

Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been meeting regularly for more than a year under UN auspices in a bid to establish a Federal Government with a single international personality, along with a Turkish Cypriot Constituent State and a Greek Cypriot Constituent State, which would be of equal status.

The Council extended the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) until 15 June, 2010. Now mustering 926 uniformed personnel – 858 troops and 68 police – supported by 40 international civilian staff, the mission was first established in 1964 to prevent further fighting between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. After hostilities erupted again in 1974, its responsibilities were expanded to supervise ceasefire lines, maintain a buffer zone and undertake humanitarian activities.

Explaining his country’s opposition, Turkish Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan objected that the resolution, like all previous ones, referred to the ‘Government of Cyprus,’ “which in reality has been representing only the Greek Cypriots since 1963. This could not be accepted by the Turkish Cypriot side and, as one of the guarantors of Cyprus, by Turkey,” he said.

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