Bosnia: Deal recalls UN role in Cyprus

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The Independent Online
THE United Nations has been here before. The idea of the world body administering Sarajevo recalls another country. In the case of Cyprus, too, it began one summer in Geneva - 19 years ago. Though hugely different, the Cyprus question too is complicated by the ambitions of bigger parent states. Ankara and Athens are not Belgrade and Zagreb, but the fact that the Cyprus question remains technically unresolved and negotiations are still going on gives some idea of the lengthy task ahead.

In 'The Geneva Declaration of 30 July 1974', the foreign ministers of Greece, Turkey and Britain declared 'that in order to stabilise the situation, the areas in the Republic of Cyprus controlled by opposing armed forces on 30 July 1974 at 2200 hours Geneva time should not be extended'. They urged 'all forces including irregular forces to desist from all offensive or hostile activities'.

'A security zone to be determined by the representatives of Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom in consultation with the UN Peace-Keeping Force in Cyprus (Unficyp) should be established at the limit of the areas occupied by the Turkish Armed Forces . . . This zone should be entered by no forces other than those of Unficyp, which should supervise the prohibition of entry.

'All the Turkish enclaves occupied by Greek or Greek Cypriot Forces should be evacuated. These enclaves will continue to be protected by Unficyp . . . Other Turkish enclaves outside the area controlled by the Turkish Armed Forces shall continue to be protected by an Unficyp security zone and may, as before, maintain their own police and security forces.

'In mixed villages the functions of security and police will be carried out by Unficyp.

'Military personnel and civilians detained as a result of the recent hostilities shall be either exchanged or released under the supervision of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the shortest time possible.'

The creation of Unficyp dates back to 10 years before that. Following the failure of the London Conference on Cyprus in January 1964 - remember the London Conference on the former Yugoslavia in August 1992? - the Cyprus question was referred to the Security Council, which recommended the creation of a UN force. 'The peace-keeping force could use force only in self-defence and its political mission was complicated by the divergent views regarding its function,' said Metin Tamkoc, author of The Turkish Cypriot State. 'As later events demonstrated clearly, the UN peace-keeping force was totally ineffective in its mission.'

By 1980, the Greek Cypriots - like the Bosnian Muslims now - still hoped to avert a final carve-up. 'It cannot be understood why Tornaritis (the Greek Cypriot Attorney-General) is still insisting upon a 'unitary state',' scoffed a Turkish Cypriot official. Three years later, in 1983, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative in Cyprus, Hugo Gobbi, summed up: 'We have four major stumbling blocks. One is the problem of the refugees. The second is the problem of the powers of central government (or, viewed from the other end, the question of the degree of autonomy of the provinces). Let's say these are the domestic problems.

'Then there are two important problems that have international repercussions. These are international guarantees, and the demilitarisation of the Republic.'

Last Saturday was the 19th anniversary of the occupation of Famagusta by Turkish soldiers. Following the Turkish invasion of the northern third of Cyprus in 1974, Turkish troops fenced off Famagusta old town, home to mostly Greek Cypriots. It is now uninhabited, a ghost town patrolled by Turkish troops. Yesterday, Cyprus protested to the UN that Turkish military trucks had looted the area.

Under a new round of negotiations this year, the UN proposes to place the fenced part of Famagusta under UN administration, enabling Greek Cypriots to return. In exchange, the deserted Nicosia international airport would re-open under UN administration, enabling Turkish Cypriots to use it.

It is those proposals, diplomats say, which may also serve as a model for the administration of Sarajevo.

Not that they are anywhere near being put into practice in Cyprus. The Greek Cypriots have signed, but the Turkish Cypriots are showing no inclination to do so. They have been given until September. Odd that they should be prevaricating. The following document exists: 'The Turkish side proposes that the Airport should be opened to international traffic conjointly by the two communities.' That was in 1975.

'The past 19 years show that perhaps the UN should have been a bit more forceful,' said Andrew Duncan of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 'perhaps should have issued an ultimatum giving the parties say, two years, and then got out. But of course, the UN doesn't behave in that way.' At the latest count, there were 1,000 UN troops left in Cyprus. Should the new proposals be implemented, the number will have go up again.