The government on Tuesday welcomed the United Nations Secretary-General’s report on Unficyp, which will continue to focus on efforts that contribute to a solution of the island’s division.
“Considering the UN efforts to rationalise peace missions, we are satisfied by the assurance we have from the organisation’s general secretariat that it will not in any way affect the mission and efficiency of the force in Cyprus,” government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said.
“We note that the force will continue to focus, as stated in the report, on efforts that contribute towards achieving a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem, which is our main objective, and to return to normal conditions in our country.”
The report circulated on Monday as an official document of the UN General Assembly in the framework of drafting the budget for the period from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019, which amounts to $55,152,000 exclusive of budgeted voluntary contributions amounting to $592,200.
The proposed budget of $55,152,000 represents an increase of $1,152,000, or 2.1 per cent, compared with the $54,000,000 for the 2017/18 period.
The proposed budget provides for the deployment of up to 860 military personnel, 69 UN police officers, 39 international staff and 119 Cypriot staff.
It also notes that during the 2018-19 period a reduction of military personnel to 834 is proposed.
The report elaborates on the aims that Unficyp is called on to meet and takes into account the military evaluation and recent Security Council resolution 2398 which endorsed it.
“On 30 January 2018, the Security Council, in its resolution 2398 (2018), welcomed the report on the strategic review of the Force and endorsed the implementation of its recommendations within existing resources. Accordingly, the military strength levels and some aspects of the civilian staffing have been adjusted in line with the recommendations in the strategic review, including a strengthened and increased emphasis on liaison and analysis. Further internal assessment of the effectiveness and efficiency of the recommendations implemented will be undertaken with a view to additional adjustments in the future,” the report says.
It adds that “the activities of Unficyp will continue to focus on creating conditions conducive to the achievement of a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue and a return to normal conditions.”
Furthermore, as in his two previous reports, the UN Secretary General expressed his concern over the increased civilian activities in the buffer zone.
“The demining of the buffer zone, the opening of seven crossing points in recent years and the expected opening of two additional crossing points by mid-2018 have all led to an increase in civilian activity in the buffer zone, in particular by civilians seeking to farm, hunt, work or even undertake construction, whether authorised by Unficyp or not,” the report says.
It notes that “this ongoing increase in civilian activity presents an increased risk of tension, not only between civilians but also between civilians and opposing forces, which in turn can increase tension between the opposing forces themselves. Civilian activities in the buffer zone are expected to continue to increase, and additional work will continue to be required from the Force to reduce and manage any potential increase in tension between the two communities.”
The report says that “Unficyp will also continue to facilitate the implementation of confidence-building measures requested and agreed upon by the leaders of both communities or as otherwise appropriate.
Such measures will include the opening of new crossing points and the maintenance of a technical demining capability with the support of the United Nations Mine Action Service”.
Furthermore, it says that “during the 2018/19 period, the Force will continue to facilitate eight technical committees, including the Technical Committees on Crime and Criminal Matters, Crossings and Cultural Heritage.”
It also refers to the implementation of a strategy for the analysis of social media posts with the analysis of news, views, political activity and public debate on the Cyprus issue, with an aim to produce 52 reports annually.
In this context, the plan is to produce “300 Facebook posts, 500 Twitter posts, 250 Flickr posts, 24 YouTube posts, 200 website updates and 4 overarching social media campaigns,” as well as offer “public information support for 12 island-wide intercommunal outreach/media awareness events.”