Nicosia has blasted the Turkish Cypriot leadership for squeezing the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) into recognising the breakaway state by handing them a one-month ultimatum, demanding an “appropriate response”.
Turkish Cypriot officials had essentially demanded that UNFICYP signs a military agreement, allowing them to maintain their camps in the north, with the Republic trying to block the move.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said UNFICYP’s mandate is issued under the Resolutions of the UN Security Council on Cyprus.
“The Cyprus Republic’s government consents to the development and presence of the Peacekeeping Force on its territory.
“In this context, the Republic of Cyprus, as the only state in Cyprus, has concluded an Agreement with the UN since 1964, which regulates the status of the Peacekeeping Force,” said the ministry.
It pointed out that the UN only signs such agreements with states on whose sovereign territory it deploys its peacekeeping missions.
The ministry said the buffer zone is not a neutral area but territory belonging to the Republic, granted to the peacekeeping force to monitor the implementation of the 1974 ceasefire and to facilitate the exercise of its mandate.
“The Foreign Ministry is taking the necessary actions and steps to the Peacekeeping Force, from which it expects the appropriate reaction.”
In a short comment to the Financial Mirror, UNFICYP spokesperson Aleem Siddique said that the mission remains unaffected.
“We are aware of the request made by the Turkish Cypriot side at UNHQ, although we have not received any official notification. The presence of the peacekeeping force across the island remains unchanged,” said Siddique.
Turkish Cypriot officials publicly demanded that UNFICYP either recognise the breakaway state or leave the north.
In an interview with Turkish daily Hurriyet on Wednesday, the head of the Turkish Cypriot foreign office, Tahsin Ertugruloglu, said that authorities in the Turkish-occupied north had given UNFICYP a month’s notice.
“You either recognise the TRNC, or you will withdraw from the TRNC,” said Ertugruloglu.
Ertugruloglu said Turkish Cypriot authorities have demanded that UNFICYP signs a military agreement with them, which will allow the UN to retain its presence in the north.
He said UN peacekeepers have two camps and one convergence point in the north.
Ertugruloglu told Hurriyet that he and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar had informed the UN of their intentions to push for recognition of the breakaway state, which only Turkey recognises.
They had informed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at a meeting on the sidelines of the UN general assembly in New York last month.
One camp, called General Stefanik, is in UNFICYP’s Sector 4, under the responsibility of the Slovak contingent headquartered in the Famagusta area.
The contingent is responsible for patrolling and monitoring military activity over 65 kilometres along the buffer zone, beginning at the east end of Kaimakli village and ending at Dherynia.
The contingent is also responsible for monitoring the fenced-off town of Varosha, part of which Turkish Cypriot authorities have reopened.