United Nations, Jan 31 (IANS): The Security Council on Monday adopted a resolution to extend the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for 12 months, till January 31, 2024.
Resolution 2674, which won the unanimous support of the 15-member council, approves an extension of 12 months for the first time instead of the past practice of six-month renewals.
The resolution affirms the Security Council's intention to continue to closely monitor the situation in Cyprus and its readiness to review the implementation of this resolution after six months and to consider any adjustments or other actions as necessary, Xinhua news agency reported.
The resolution expresses the Security Council's serious concern and alarm at the continued violations of the military status quo along the cease-fire lines and urges the sides and all involved parties to respect UNFICYP's mandated authority in, and delineation of, the buffer zone.
It urgently calls on both sides to respect the integrity and inviolability of the buffer zone, to remove all unauthorised constructions and to prevent unauthorised military or civilian activities within and along the cease-fire lines.
It stresses that UNFICYP's mandated authority extends throughout Cyprus, calls on all parties to continue to cooperate with UNFICYP and strongly urges full respect for UNFICYP's freedom of movement throughout Cyprus and the cessation of all restrictions on the mission's movement and access.
The resolution deeply regrets the lack of progress on an effective mechanism for direct military contacts between the sides and the relevant involved parties, and urges flexibility and engagement by the sides and the relevant involved parties to develop a suitably acceptable proposal on the establishment of such a mechanism and its timely implementation.
It calls on the sides to reduce existing barriers to intercommunal contact, emphasises the importance of effective communication for risk mitigation and trust building between the communities, and urges the sides to agree and implement further confidence-building measures that can contribute to a conducive environment for settlement.
The resolution fully supports the UN Secretary-General's ongoing engagement with the sides and encourages further rounds of informal talks and reiterates the importance of the sides and all involved participants approaching this process in the spirit of openness, flexibility and compromise and showing the necessary political will and commitment to freely negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement under UN auspices. It continues to urge the sides to engage actively and without further delay with the Secretary-General and his team to this end, and further urges the sides to reach an agreement regarding the proposal of the Secretary-General to appoint a UN envoy for Cyprus.
After independence in 1960, the tensions between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots increased. UNFICYP was set up by the UN Security Council in 1964 to prevent further fighting between the two sides.
Turkish troops occupied the northern part of Cyprus in 1974 in reaction to a coup by Athens-backed Greek Cypriots, splitting the country into two. The Security Council mandated the force to perform additional functions after 1974.