The UN confirmed on Friday it has received a request from the Turkish Cypriot side for its peace keeping force in Cyprus (Unficyp) to reach an agreement with the breakaway regime to remain active in the north.
UN Secretary General Spokesman Stephane Dujarric confirmed the receipt of the letter and said: “Issues dealing with Unficyp are part of our frequent and continuous dialogue with the Turkish Cypriot side.”
He added that Unficyp continues to work closely with both sides.
Earlier in the week, Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Tahsin Ertugruloglu had said that Unficyp was handed an ultimatum, saying the force had one month to make an agreement with the ‘government’ or leave their bases in the north.
Commenting on the matter after a meeting in New York with Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said the two had spoken about the letter in question.
He added that it is unacceptable because the letter came from a ‘non-existent’ state, and he was certain Unficyp would deal with the matter in such a way.
Weighing in on the matter, the foreign ministry said that it is taking the appropriate steps and staying in contact with the peacekeeping force.
The ministry added that Unficyp’s mandate is clarified in the resolutions on Cyprus of the UN Security Council.
“In those, the government of the Republic of Cyprus gives its consent for the development and presence of the peacekeeping force in their territory,” the ministry said.
Earlier in the week, Unficyp told the Cyprus Mail it had not received any notification on the north’s request.
“We are aware of the request made by the Turkish Cypriot side at the UN Headquarters recently although we have yet to receive any official notification from them.
“The presence of the force remains unchanged,” Unficyp Spokesman Aleem Siddique said.
According to reports in the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, the ‘government’ in the north’s ultimatum to Unficyp had asked them to recognise their ‘state’ or leave.
Ertugruloglu said if Unficyp does not make an agreement with the breakaway regime then they will need to abandon their two stations in the north.
He added that Unficyp’s mandate stems from an agreement with the Greek-Cypriot side, and that the north is hosting them.
“Our hospitality has ended, either they sign a military agreement with the ‘TRNC’, or they will have to leave.”
“After 1974, we live with the security of the Turkish army, if the UN soldiers leave the ‘TRNC’, they will leave,” he said.