The Australian government’s decision to not continue its policing contribution to Unficyp beyond June 2017, after 53 years was made mainly for budgetary reasons, a statement said on Monday.
A government statement said that in advance of the move Australia had consulted with the Republic of Cyprus, representatives of both communities, the three guarantor powers, as well as the UN in New York.
Some 1,600 Australian police peacekeepers have served in Cyprus over half a century since 1964, three of whom were killed. In 2017, there were seven Australians serving in Unpol.
Australia’s decision to withdraw was made in 2015, the government statement said, having taken into account a range of considerations
The level of increased interest and capacity of many EU and EU-candidate states in shouldering regional peacekeeping tasks, in particular in a fellow-EU member state was one.
“Unficyp as a mission continues to be very well served by dedicated police drawn from these European countries as well as others elsewhere such as China and India,” it said.
It added that while Cyprus was Australia’s first policing contribution to a peacekeeping mission, over the subsequent half-century, and especially following the end of the Cold-War, Australian police have concurrently been called to serve in peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan, Bougainville (PNG) , Cambodia, Haiti and other places.
Australia’s own domestic security environment has also continued to become more complex as the result of terrorist threats in Australia, and new and increasing demands on Australian police at home have steadily appeared.
“Australia remains fully committed to the Cyprus peace process as we have done for 53 years – and remains faithful to the long-established UN and international-community settings supporting a comprehensive negotiated settlement,” the statement said.
Through its High Commission in Nicosia, it also continues to support, and has stepped-up support in the last year, for bi-communal initiatives. Australia’s Minister for Justice, Michael Keenan, who visited Cyprus in late April this year discussed the conclusion of the current Australian police mission and reiterated to his Cypriot counterpart, the UN and other key players “that Australia – as a successful federation – would assist a re-united Cyprus to develop its federal police force”.