Cyprus Mail
CyprusCyprus Talks

Possible leaders’ meeting this month

By Jean Christou

THE chief negotiators on both sides yesterday agreed in principle to have a leaders’ meeting towards the end of March.
Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis and Turkish Cypriot negotiator Kudret Ozersay met in the United Nations Protected Area of Nicosia at the Good Offices Mission.

According to a UN statement, they held substantive discussions on issues connected to different chapters and agreed to continue these discussions at their next meeting on March 11.

They also agreed in principle to hold a leaders’ meeting towards the end of the month, it said.

If a meet is set up, it will be the second leaders’ meeting in the current round of talks, which began on February 11. According to the joint declaration, which sets out the parameters for the negotiations, the leaders – President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu – would meet “as often as needed”.

Meanwhile yesterday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) could provide an impetus to the ongoing negotiations.

“I trust that in the period ahead, both sides, with support from the United Nations, will strive for such a comprehensive settlement so that Cyprus may be united again,” Ban said in a written statement.

UNFICYP’s mandate in Cyprus was established by Security Council resolution 186 of March 4, 1964. It was given a three-month mandate in response to the outbreak of intercommunal violence in late 1963. By June 1964 there were 6,500 UN troops stationed on the island.

Ban said the Security Council had mandated UNFICYP to contribute to a return to normal conditions following the violence. “Over the past fifty years, UNFICYP has played a crucial role in preventing a recurrence of fighting and contributing to the resolution of issues that affect the everyday lives of Cypriots across the island,” Ban added.

He expressed his gratitude to the 32 countries that have contributed either troops or police or both to the mission, and their peacekeepers, He also paid tribute to the 184 peacekeepers who lost their lives in support of peace in Cyprus.

In statements to the Cyprus News Agency, Anastasiades said Cyprus was grateful for the presence of the UN.

“UNFICYP’s presence here confirms the substantial assistance the United Nations provides to Cyprus and its people. We thank the countries which have contributed troops to UNFICYP and those whose nationals have served here as UN representatives,” he said, and paid tribute to those who lost their lives in Cyprus.

Anastasiades also said Cyprus had benefited substantially from other UN activities on the island such as the UN Development Programme (UNOPS and later UNDP) which helped towards economic and social development by providing technical assistance and implementing development programmes.

“I would like to salute the United Nations and their Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus for everything they have given to our country,” said Anastasiades.

UNFICYP now has 850-plus troops and 60-plus police officers to cover the 180-km long buffer zone that splits the island. Ten years ago that number was around 1,200. The force costs some €50m a year to support.

According to UNFICYP, the force was initially supported entirely by voluntary contributions but this resulted in a shortfall, which prompted the UN General Assembly in 1993 (resolution 47/236) to decree that costs not covered by voluntary contributions should be borne by UN member states in accordance with Article 17 of the UN Charter.

Today, one-third of UNFICYP’s budget is financed by the Cyprus government, while Greece contributes $6.5 million annually. The rest is financed from contributions assessed on the entire membership of the United Nations, as decreed in 1993.

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