UN extends peacekeeping mandate in Cyprus, Turkey opposes

Türkiye Materials 16 June 2010 03:07 (UTC +04:00)

The UN Security Council Tuesday extended its peacekeeping mission's mandate in Cyprus for another six months to maintain the UN presence there while talks to settle the ethnic division on the island are underway, dpa reported.

The council voted 14-1, with Turkey voting against, to keep the mission of about 1,000 troops and police in Cyprus until December 15. Cyprus is divided between Turkish Cypriots in the north and Greek Cypriots in the south.

Turkey's UN Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan said he voted against because the renewal resolution recognized only the Greek Cypriot side known as the Government of Cyprus.

Apakan said such a recognition remains a major obstacle to solving the division on Cyprus. The UN has not recognized the self-declared Turkish Cypriot republic in Northern Cyprus.

The mandate of the UN interim force in Cyprus has been renewed every six months since the force was sent there in 1964 to handle ethnic clashes after Britain withdrew from the Mediterranean island. Turkey sent troops to defend the Turkish Cypriot side in the 1970s and has maintained the troops there since then.

UN-mediated talks led by former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer in Nicosia were reported to have made progress in narrowing differences between the two communities to form a federal government in which the two sides would share power.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a report to the council that the diplomatic talks were progressing and suggested that enhanced economic and social parity between the sides would eventually make reunification "not only easier, but also more likely."