22 April 2004
Security Council Fails to Adopt Text on Cyprus as Russian Federation Casts Technical Veto
NEW YORK, 21 April (UN Headquarters) -- A draft resolution that would have had the Security Council approve the mandate of a new United Nations operation in Cyprus and ban arms sales to the island nation was defeated this evening, owing to a veto by one of its permanent members, the Russian Federation.
The result of the vote on the text, tabled by the United Kingdom and the United States, was 14 in favour to 1 against.
By other terms of the text, the provisions set out in the annex to the resolution would only have taken effect upon notification by the Secretary-General that the Cyprus settlement plan -- which calls for a federal government composed of two constituent States -- had been accepted by both the Greek and Turkish Cypriots in separate, simultaneous referenda to be held on 24 April, enabling a united Cyprus to enter the European Union on 1 May.
Explaining his position, the representative of the Russian Federation said Saturdays referenda should take place freely without any pressure or interference from outside. It was necessary to await their result, after which the Council would be in a position to adopt a considered decision, including on the deployment of a new United Nations operation on the island. A complex decision, such as on the parameters of the new United Nations operation and the imposition of an arms embargo, called for thorough and careful analysis.
However, the co-sponsors of the draft, ignoring the views of other Council members, had put the text to a vote, he said. Thus, the Russian delegation had had no choice but to exercise a technical veto. It was prepared to participate constructively on the resolution, work on which should be continued after the referenda and taking into account their results, he added.
Several other Council members explained that they had voted in favour of the text to express support for the efforts of the Secretary-General to bring about a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus question. The fact that the overwhelming majority of Council members had voted in favour, the United Kingdom delegate said, sent a strong message of support for the Secretary-Generals efforts and for the plan, which offered the people of Cyprus a historic opportunity to find a peaceful solution. There should be no doubt that the Council stood ready to fulfil its commitments and that the resolution remained on the table.
Others speaking in explanation of vote were the representatives of the United States, Benin, France, China, Angola, Algeria, Romania, Brazil, Chile, Spain and Pakistan.
The meeting, which began at 6:50 p.m., adjourned at 7:15 p.m.
When the Security Council met on Cyprus today, it had before it the Secretary-Generals report (document S/2004/302), in which he asks the Council to endorse the basic agreement creating a United Cyprus Republic, ban arms sales to the country and approve the mandate of a new United Nations operation there.
The Secretary-Generals request was submitted in accordance with the plan finalized last month at the invitation of the parties. He asks the Council to consider it before the simultaneous referenda scheduled for 24 April, which, if approved, would enable a united Cyprus to enter the European Union on 1 May. The decisions requested of the Council would be contingent on the outcome of the balloting, and be null and void if the Foundation Agreement did not enter into force for whatever reason.
The Council is being asked to endorse the Foundation Agreement, the report says, to reassure the two sides that the Council is cognizant of their key concerns and endorses the means by which they are addressed in the agreement. The Council is also asked to take formal note that the plan expressly prohibits partition or secession and to acknowledge the political equality and distinct identity of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
In asking the Council to prohibit the import and export of weapons to Cyprus, the Secretary-General notes that the arms embargo is part of the broader understanding that the country should be demilitarized. It is also seen as an important factor in ensuring the effective implementation of the Comprehensive Settlement and in eliminating further threats to international peace and security in the area.
Meanwhile, the new United Nations operation would serve quite different tasks and take over from the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), which, since its creation in 1964, has been supervising ceasefire lines on the island nation. The new mandate would include monitoring and verification of the parties compliance with the plans provisions relating to troop withdrawals, dissolution of local forces and police activities.
The new United Nations operation would enjoy freedom of movement throughout the island, and comprise some 2,500 troops, double the current UNFICYP force, 510 civilian police, and a substantial number of national and international civilian staff.
Action on Text
GENNADY GATILOV (Russian Federation), speaking in explanation of position before the vote, said his delegation had consistently supported the Secretary-Generals good offices mission and his efforts for a just settlement of the Cyprus problem on the basis of Security Council resolutions and the will of both Cypriot communities. The international community, especially the Council, should assist the parties, but not impose any decision on them. The referenda must take place freely without any pressure or interference from outside. It was necessary to await their result, after which the Council would be in a position to adopt a considered decision, including on the deployment of a new United Nations operation on the island, taking into account the results of the referenda.
He expressed deep regret over the manner in which the work surrounding the draft had been structured in the Council. The elaboration of a complex decision such as on the parameters of a new United Nations peacekeeping operation and the imposition of an arms embargo called for thorough and careful analysis. However, the co-sponsors of the draft, ignoring the views of other Council members, had put the draft to a vote. Under such conditions, the Russian delegation had no choice but to exercise a technical veto. The Russian Federation was prepared to work constructively in elaborating a resolution on the issue. Such work would be continued after the referenda and would take into account their results.
The result of the voting was 14 in favour to 1 against (Russian Federation). The draft was not adopted, owing to the negative vote by a permanent member of the Council.
ADAM THOMSON (United Kingdom), speaking after the vote, said his delegation was disappointed that the Council had been unable to reach consensus. While no one had opposed the general substance of the draft, one member had voted against the draft for technical reasons. The purpose of the draft was to support the Secretary-Generals efforts and his plan for a comprehensive settlement on the island of Cyprus.
He said that the fact that the overwhelming majority of Council members had voted in favour sent a strong message of support for the Secretary-Generals efforts and plan, which offered the Cypriot people a historic opportunity to find a peaceful solution to the Cyprus question. The vote also offered reassurance that the Council would act on obligations contained in the Comprehensive Settlement, including the establishment of a strengthened United Nations peacekeeping operation and an arms embargo. There should be doubt that the Council stood ready to fulfil its commitments and that the resolution remained on the table.
JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said he too was disappointed that one member had been unable to support the Secretary-Generals request that the draft be passed before the referenda to provide assurances that security structures in the settlement would be in place before 24 April. The opposition was isolated, and other members had taken a very different view. Nonetheless, it was clear that if the settlement were approved, there would be rapid action in the Council to establish new United Nations operation and an arms embargo.
He noted that the resolution had been supported by an overwhelming majority, demonstrating strong support for the implementation of all aspects of the settlement, including a comprehensive property and restitution system.
JOEL W. ADECHI (Benin) said his delegation had voted in favour of the resolution to give the Cypriot parties the assurance that the United Nations was prepared to assume its responsibilities under the settlement plan, should the plan be adopted. Benin had also voted in favour to express support for the Secretary-Generals efforts. The decision to be taken on the plan and on the reunification fell only to the Cypriot communities. It was hoped they would state their views and make the right choice for themselves.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE (France) said he deeply regretted that the Council had not been in a position to adopt the draft resolution and that it had been put to a vote. It would have taken more time for the Council to express itself unanimously. That signal could be interpreted wrongly. However, there was unanimity among the Council members on the substance of the text. Therefore, if the settlement plan was adopted on Saturday, the necessary measures for the texts adoption should be taken immediately. France supported the Secretary-Generals efforts and preferred that a unified Cyprus enter the European Union on 1 May.
WANG GUANGYA (China) said his country had always believed that the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the island deserved the international communitys full respect. China appreciated the untiring efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Adviser in that regard. On 24 April, the Greek and Turkish Cypriots would be holding referenda on the final settlement plan, and it was hoped that they would make the right choice for an early, just and lasting solution to the question of Cyprus.
While the Chinese delegation had voted in favour of the draft, he said, it had hoped that the Council could have carried out more consultations and considered fully the views of all parties so as to be able to reach consensus on the text. The current state of affairs was something that no one would have liked to see.
JULIO HELDER DE MOURA LUCAS (Angola) said the people of Cyprus, on 24 April, were called upon to vote on the foundation of a new State and on the establishment of new relations. High stakes lay ahead. The Council was called upon to take an important decision today. It should respond to the Secretary-Generals request and adopt measures contained in the draft. Angola shared the expectation that the resolution could positively impact the country and increase the confidence of the islands people and political leaders. The expression of support by the United Nations for security provisions was an important psychological boost, and Angola had, therefore, voted in favour of the draft as an expression of support for the Secretary-Generals efforts.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said he had voted in favour of the text, but deeply regretted that the Council had not been able to maintain its unity at such a crucial moment for Cyprus. Algeria had hoped that the Council would have given itself more time to achieve a compromise, which was within the Councils reach, and its positive vote had aimed to show support for the Secretary-Generals efforts. Algeria had voted in favour because the text reflected the will of the international community and the Council to be alongside the people of Cyprus. It was hoped that the Councils message would be understood by all.
MIHNEA I. MOTOC (Romania) said that he had voted in favour of the text to support the efforts of the Council to achieve a just settlement of the Cyprus problem and to allow a united Cyprus to join the European Union. Romania appreciated the good faith contribution by the parties and the Secretary-Generals team. Now the Cypriot people would have to make their decision.
HENRIQUE R. VALLE (Brazil) said his delegation had voted in favour of the draft because it was in general agreement with its provisions. The positive vote was also a demonstration of support for the Secretary-Generals tireless efforts. However, Brazil had doubts about the timing of the initiative and would have appreciated more time for consultation.
HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) expressed regret over the result of the vote and hope for Security Council unanimity on such an important issue. Chiles favourable opinion of the Secretary-General had been an important factor in its favourable vote, and it was hoped that the parties knew that once the people expressed their views on Saturday, the Council would make its contribution for the full implementation of the relevant aspects of the agreement.
ANA MARIA MENENDEZ (Spain) said she had voted in favour because she fully agreed with the contents of the draft resolution. Spain hoped the draft would be adopted next week, which would mean that the referenda would have had positive results. Spain hoped a reunified Cyprus would join the European Union in May, and supported the Secretary-Generals efforts.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said he had supported the draft since it expressed support for the Secretary-Generals plan for a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus. Pakistan regretted that the Council had not been able to adopt a unanimous decision. If there had been more time and more consultations, consensus would have been possible. Pakistan hoped that both the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities would read the right message from the international community and take a historic decision on Saturday in the interest of themselves, their country and their region.
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