SecretaryGeneral recommends 6month extension of UN mission in Cyprus

7 June 2007Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has recommended a six-month extension of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) while pointing out that some are questioning the value it adds in the absence of political progress. “UNFICYP has played an important role in maintaining peace and security in Cyprus,” Mr. Ban said in his latest report to the Security Council covering the past six months.At the same, time he observed that, “After 43 years of presence in Cyprus, the value added of UNFICYP, particularly in the absence of significant progress on the political process, is increasingly being questioned by various actors in the international community.”The situation along the ceasefire lines has stayed “generally calm and stable,” but he noted security concerns regarding civilians endeavouring to seek their property rights in the buffer zone, disregarding security considerations.Mr. Ban underscored his “firm belief that the responsibility of finding a solution lies first and foremost with the Cypriots themselves,” and said that “it is essential that the parties demonstrate their readiness to match words with deeds through sincere efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement.”Despite the lack of any significant advancement, “the parties have taken small but incremental steps in the right direction,” he observed, welcoming the sustained dialogue between representatives of the two leaders regarding bicommunal working groups and technical committees.He voiced regret that the atmosphere in which the two parties are allowed to engage in bicommunal contacts has not improved substantially, and said he believes an active civil society could aid the political process.