Turkey’s National Security Council on Thursday called for a written agreement between the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ and the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus (Unficyp) regarding relations between the two.

In a statement, the National Security Council said an agreement is necessary to delimit the functions of Unficyp vis a vis its interactions with the north of Cyprus.

“The attitude and practice of double standards by Unficyp regarding the sovereignty of the ‘Trnc’ and regarding the most fundamental humanitarian needs of Turkish Cypriots, are incompatible with Unficyp’s obligation to remain neutral and they damage its prestige,” the statement read.

“In this context, it was noted that once again the need has arisen for the activities of the peacekeeping forces in the Trnc to be placed on a legal basis through a written agreement with the authorities of the Trnc.”

The statement added that Turkey will continue to guarantee security and peace for Turkish Cypriots “in the context of its [Turkey’s] rights emanating from international law and treaties.”

The United Nations does not recognise the north of Cyprus. Moreover, UN Resolution 541 (1983) deplores the Turkish Cypriot Unilateral Declaration of Independence and considers that declaration as legally void and calls for its withdrawal.

In August, Turkish Cypriots physically clashed with members of Unficyp in the buffer zone, following a decision by the former to build a road between Arsos and Pyla, violating the status quo of the buffer zone.

The call for a separate arrangement between the north and Unificyp is not new. Back in July 2018, then Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci sent a letter the UN Security Council asking for a reassessment of Unficyp’s mandate. Akinci argued that Unficyp continues to cooperate with the Turkish Cypriot authorities absent a legal basis and that his community stood ready to prepare a document with the UN dealing with all aspects of their relations.

A second attempt to challenge the functions of Unficyp was made by the Turkish Cypriot side through a statement by ‘foreign minister’ Tahsin Erturuloglu in the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet in October 2022.

At the time, Erturuloglu effectively delivered an ultimatum to Unficyp, giving them a month’s notice to agree to the conclusion of a separate agreement with the ‘Trnc’.

These demands are seen as part of the Turkish side’s drive to attain international recognition for the north.