Greek Defence Minister warns against any attempt to change UNFICYP mandate

Any attempt to change the mandate or the composition of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) could prove detrimental to the status quo on the island and to the overarching objective of restarting negotiations on finding a mutually acceptable solution, Greek Minister of National Defence Evangelos Apostolakis has told the UN ministerial meeting on the organisation’s peacekeeping operations.

The meeting in New York is attended by 52 UN member states, including Cyprus, which is represented by Minister of Defence Savvas Angelides.

In his speech, Apostolakis said the UN is the backbone of global peace and security, adding that Greece is investing on initiatives which are enhancing stability and security, primarily in our immediate neighbourhood, the Balkans and Eastern Mediterranean, but also in selected other regions of unrest.

He added that we, in cooperation with Cyprus, have built special relationships with important partners in Eastern Mediterranean, such as Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, noting that these multilateral schemes aim to strengthen the political, economic and defence cooperation, which will ultimately serve the purpose of stabilizing an area that has been historically exposed to various security challenges.

With regard to UNFICYP, we believe that its current force composition and mandate, comprising of a Military, Police and Civilian component, is in line with actual needs on the ground and very much needed, he said.

In our view, any attempt to change the mandate or the composition of the Force, could prove detrimental to the status quo on the island and to the overarching objective of restarting negotiations on finding a mutually acceptable solution, from the point they were suspended at the Crans Montana Conference in 2017. Furthermore, in case of alterations in the current mandate of the Peacekeeping Force, there is a tangible danger of witnessing a renewed flare up of tension along the ceasefire lines, as we have seen on numerous instances during the recent past, he said.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

Source: Cyprus News Agency