GeriGündem Over Turkish objection, UN extends Cyprus peacekeeping mandate
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Over Turkish objection, UN extends Cyprus peacekeeping mandate

Over Turkish objection, UN extends Cyprus peacekeeping mandate
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ISTANBUL - The U.N. Security Council extended its Cyprus peacekeeping mandate for another six months on Friday as Turkey voted against the resolution.

The mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping force, or UNFICYP, which patrols the divided Mediterranean island's ceasefire line, had been due to expire on June 15 and was extended until December 15.


The resolution was adopted by 14 countries in favor, and one, Turkey, against for "reasons of principle." Turkey has been a member of the U.N. Security Council since January.


"This wrong approach to consider the government of Cyprus as the sole government of the whole island has unfortunately been the main obstacle on the way to finding a just, lasting and comprehensive solution for over 45 years," Turkey's U.N. Ambassador Baki Ilkin was quoted by news agencies as saying.


Cyprus has been split since 1964 when Turkish Cypriots were forced to withdraw into enclaves. Since then the U.N.'s force, currently comprised of 857, has been in Cyprus.


Re-launched in September 2008 after a four-year hiatus, Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and his Greek Cypriot counterpart, Demetris Christofias, have been involved in UN-sponsored unification talks aimed at reaching an agreement to end the island's decades-long division. But little progress has been made so far.


The talks mark the first major push for peace since the failure of a U.N. reunification plan in 2004, which was approved by Turkish Cypriots but overwhelmingly rejected by Greek Cypriots.


The Security Council resolution also strongly urged Christofias and Talat "to increase the momentum in the negotiations to ensure the full exploitation of this opportunity to reach a comprehensive settlement."


The council reiterated that a settlement should be based on two strong separate zones with an overarching federal government.


The resolution also welcomed the implementation of some confidence-building measures by the two leaders and urged further steps, including the opening of additional crossing points between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot zones.


Ilkin told the council after Friday's vote that the "yes" vote by Turkish Cypriots in the 2004 referendum proved "that they want a just and lasting comprehensive settlement."


"They are prepared once again not to spare any effort to achieve a durable and equitable solution," he said, expressing hope that the Greek Cypriots would also "respond positively."

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