The implementation of a confidence-building measure (CBM) on eighteen suspected hazardous areas, that may be contaminated with mines, identified on both sides of the divide in Cyprus is underway, since May this year, and is expected to be completed at the beginning of 2020.
All identified areas are situated along the ceasefire line and close to the edges of the buffer zone. Nine of them are in South Cyprus and nine of them in North Cyprus.
A well-informed source has told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that nothing “suspicious” has been identified so far in the 4-5 areas for which surveys have been conducted so far in South Cyprus.
Both technical and non-technical surveys are taking place at the suspected hazardous areas, with the support of the UN peace-keeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS). This CBM was agreed, inter alia, between Greek Cypriot President, Nicos Anastasiades, and Turkish Cypriot President, Mustafa Akinci, during an informal meeting they had last February.
The UN Secretary-General said in a report on UNFICYP, an advance copy of which was handed over earlier this week to the members of the Security Council, that the two leaders “agreed to clear 18 suspected hazardous areas, nine on each side, through coordinated, reciprocal surveys. clearance began in May 2019 with support from UNFICYP and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS). Further to a subsequent request by the Greek Cypriot side to conduct a combination of technical and non-technical surveys on the suspected hazardous areas, the work is now expected to be completed in early 2020,” he added.
Meanwhile, invited to comment the UNSG`s reference in his report, that “as regards the establishment of a potential military mechanism between the opposing forces, both sides expressed interest and acknowledged the possible value-added of such a mechanism”, and that “the positions of the two sides, however, varied with respect to the possible detailed structure, composition and modus operandi of the mechanism” the same source said that the Greek Cypriot side would not accept representatives of the Turkish Cypriot “security forces” to participate in such a mechanism, but representatives of the Turkish army.
It noted that the establishment of such a mechanism would aim at addressing military incidences along the cease-fire line, on an ad hoc basis, and stressed that it could operate only with the participation of the military leadership of UNFICYP, as the aim is not to diminish and undermine the role of the UN peace-keeping force.
Comprising military and civilian personnel from various contributing countries, UNFICYP arrived in Cyprus in March 1964 after intercommunal fighting broke out. The mandate of the force is renewed every six months by the UN Security Council.