The Cyprus issue has been on the agenda of the United Nations since 1948, when Greece declared that the Island of Cyprus desired ENOSIS (union with Greece). In 1955, the Greek Cypriot EOKA organization was established to realize ENOSIS, under the pretext of self-determination right, by gaining independence from British Colonial rule. The United Nations have a presence on the Island since the arrival of the UN Peace Keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) in March 1964. The mandate of UNFICYP is to maintain the ceasefire and to provide the Mission of Good Offices of the UN Secretary-General for the negotiations on the Cyprus issue.
On 4 March 1964, the Security Council adopted resolution 186 (1964) recommending the creation of a United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). The Council stipulated the function of the Force as preserving international peace and security, preventing the recurrence of fighting and contributing to the maintenance and restoration of law and order and a return to normal conditions. The Council also recommended that the UN Secretary-General designate a mediator to promote a peaceful solution of the Cyprus problem.
The size and composition of the force is determined by the UN Secretary-General in consultation with relevant parties and the Commander of the Force is appointed by the Secretary-General. UNFICYP periodically reports to the Security Council on its operations.
On 25 March 1964, the Secretary-General appointed Mr. Sakari S. Tuomioja as Mediator according to the Security Council Resolution 186. Unfortunately, Mr. Tuomioja passed away on 9 September 1964. A week later, the Secretary-General appointed Mr. Galo Plaza Lasso as the new Mediator. The new mediator submitted a report in March 1965 which he went beyond the scope of his mandate by offering a framework for a future agreement and proposing that the two parties in Cyprus start negotiating on that basis. As a result, the mediation function was abandoned.
Although, the mediation function had ended in failure, the need to liaise between the two parties in Cyprus to bring about a political settlement remained and on 4 March 1966, the Secretary-General instructed his Special Representative to employ good offices on his behalf in and outside Cyprus with a view to promoting an agreed political settlement.
Until 1993, the Special Representatives or the Acting Special Representatives were resident in Cyprus. In 1993, the Secretary-General decided to appoint a Special Representative for Cyprus on a non-resident basis and appointed a Deputy Special Representative to be resident in Cyprus.
UNFICYP civilian, military and police personnel performed their tasks by working in close cooperation with the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot authorities. UNFICYP also carried out an observation role along the length of the “Green Line” in Nicosia, undertook ad hoc measures designated to save life, reduce tension, minimize suffering where possible and to restore essential civilian activities.
Between 1964 and 1974, Turkey and Britain made repeated appeals and representations at the UN Security Council to stop Archbishop Makarios violating Basic Articles of the 1960 Treaties as well as the rights of Turkish Cypriots. The efforts by Turkey and Great Britain under the obligations of the Treaty of Guarantee “to ensure observance” of the provisions that have been breached, have been to no effect.
Finally, the Greek military coup of 15 July 1974 overtook the “Government of the Republic of Cyprus” to immediately realize annexation of the Island to Greece. This new and major military development was nothing but a breach of the Treaty of Guarantee. Under Article IV of the Treaty of Guarantee, Turkey invited Great Britian as one of the three guarantor powers to take joint action, if possible, or else, as it reserved the right to unilaterally intervene on the island in the event of a breach of the Treaty.
Turkey exercised its right to unilateral intervention on 20 July 1974 and prevented the total annihilation of Turkish Cypriots as well as the island’s annexation to Greece.
On 12 March 1975, the Security Council adopted resolution 367 requesting the Secretary General “to undertake a new mission of good offices and to that end to convene the parties under new agreed procedures and place himself personally at their disposal, so that the resumption, the intensification and the progress of comprehensive negotiations, carried out in a reciprocal spirit of understanding and moderation under his personal auspices and with his direction as appropriate, might thereby be facilitated”. All subsequent efforts of the UN Secretary-General and his personal Representatives for the intercommunal talks emanate from this resolution.
Five rounds of intercommunal talks were held in Vienna between 1975 and 1976 under the auspices of the Secretary-General. In the course of the negotiations widely known as the Vienna Talks, the two sides discussed all aspects of the Cyprus question and issued a communiqué at the end of each round. The most important outcome of the Vienna Talks was the agreement reached between the two sides on the voluntary exchange of populations “under an organized programme and with the assistance of UNFICYP”.
The full text of the Voluntary Exchange of Populations Agreement was issued in the final communiqué at the end of the Third Round of Vienna Talks on 2 August 1975,and a voluntary exchange of populations took place whereby the Turkish Cypriots moved to the North and the Greek Cypriots moved to the South with the exception of a few hundred Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots who chose to stay in the North and the South respectively. This landmark Agreement and its implementation under the auspices of UNFICYP have been recorded in the Secretary General’s report of 13 September 1975 (5/11789/Add.2) to the Security Council.
The events of 1974 and the ensuing developments whereby a cease-fire came into being and the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot peoples reorganized themselves in a bi-zonal set up inevitably altered the functioning of UNFICYP. The Security Council adopted a number of resolutions which have affected the functioning of UNFICYP and required the Force to perform certain additional functions. In the light of these developments, the Secretary-General took the initiative to reorganizing the stationing, deployment and functioning of UNFICYP.
On 13 December 1975, a Process-Verbal was issued in relation to the agreement reached between the President of the Turkish Cypriot Federated State of Cyprus, Mr. Rauf Denktaş, and Acting Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, UNFICYP Commander, Mr. Prem Chad, which read as follows:
“During the process of consultations undertaken by the Secretary-General regarding the extension of UNFICYP mandate and following an exchange of views on this subject with the Turkish Cypriot Community, the Secretary-General has indicated that his Special Representative will discuss with the Representative of the Turkish Cypriot Community questions pertaining to the stationing, deployment and functioning of UNFICYP in the area under Turkish control with a view to arriving at mutually acceptable arrangements which will be recorded through an exchange of letters.”
UNFICYP maintained and adjusted its operations in the Northern and Southern parts of Cyprus with the consent of both sides and through local agreements reached between UNFICYP and the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot authorities respectively.
Immediately after the cease-fire came into effect at 1800 hours on 16 August 1974, UNFICYP inspected the areas of confrontation and drew up the cease-fire lines. The military status quo was thus established and the area between the cease-fire lines was placed under the authority of UNFICYP as the Buffer Zone. By the agreement reached between the UNFICYP and the two sides in Cyprus, UNFICYP took full control of the Buffer Zone and maintained the status quo by keeping the cease-fire lines and the buffer zone under constant surveillance. All forces other than those of UNFICYP are strictly prohibited from entering the Buffer Zone. Certain civilian and humanitarian activities are permitted from time to time in designated areas but no other civilian movement or activity is permitted unless specially authorized by UNFICYP.
Currently, the United Nations operation in Cyprus is for peacekeeping through UNFICYP and peacemaking through the Mission of Good Offices of the Secretary-General.
UNFICYP’s work is based on the military component, UN Police (UNPOL), the Civil Affairs Branch and Administration. The Office of the Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General supports the conduct of negotiations between the two sides in Cyprus in line with the Secretary-General’s Mission of Good Offices.
The Turkish Cypriot and UN authorities work in cooperation and harmony to deal with issues of common concern and/or interest. In this spirit, Turkish Cypriot authorities do their utmost to help ease and facilitate all UN functions carried out in North Cyprus.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains close contact and cooperation with all UN components stationed in Cyprus and often serves as a bridge of communication, especially on issues where differences of opinion arise between the relevant UN and Turkish Cypriot authorities.
The relations between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UNFICYP Civil Affairs Section are of particular importance. The Section carries out all its functions in North Cyprus with the knowledge and assistance of the Ministry. Similarly, Civil Affairs Section provides its assistance and good offices on all humanitarian issues that need to be raised and solved vis-à-vis the Greek Cypriot authorities, including the rights and freedoms of Turkish Cypriots living in South Cyprus.
The Turkish Cypriot Representative Office in New York carries out regular contacts with the UN Secretariat, in general, and the relevant UN personnel working at the UN Office in New York, in particular. Turkish Cypriot Representative Office deals with all issues at hand, including the negotiations carried out within the context of the Goof Offices Mission.
In support of the mandate of UNFICYP and the Good Offices Mission of the UN on the Island, various programs have been carrying out humanitarian work and confidence-building activities, and providing financial assistance to strengthen the capacity of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots to participate in the process of reconciliation. Among these programs are the UN Development Programme Action for Cooperation and Trust in Cyprus (UNDP-ACT), the UN Development Programme Partnership for the Future (UNDP-PFF), the Committee of Missing Persons (CMP) in Cyprus, and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Cyprus.