UNFICYP, Cyprus


Basic information:

Official name: United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus
Foundation: 4. March 1964
(UN SC resolution 186/1964)

Umiestnenie na Cypre

Foundation: Cyprus
Mission HQ: Nicosia
Mission Commander: Major General Chao LIU
Slovak Contingent Commander (Sektor 4): Lt. Col. Jaroslav BITTALA
Mandate of Slovak forces in the operation: 280 (resolution of the National Council of the SR No. 1372/2001)
Current number of Slovak forces in the operation: 157 (September 2013)
Website: UN - UNFICYP website


Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It has an area of 9,251 square kilometres and is located in the eastern part of the Mediterranean region at a distance of 380 km north of Egypt, 105 km west of Syria and 75 km south of Turkey. Cyprus has about 754,800 inhabitants. Nicosia is the capital of Cyprus and has 195,300 inhabitants. It is the only capital in Europe which is divided into two parts – Greek and Turkish.
Mapa Cypru
Owing to its geographical position and strategic importance, the island was colonized and seized almost by all major history makers – Alexander the Great, Ptolemy or Richard III. In 1571, the island was conquered by the Ottomans. It remained under control of the Ottoman Empire until 1878, when Cyprus was placed under British administration. The Great Britain administered the island until 1960. In that year, after a four-year fight for liberty, Cyprus won its independence and was declared to be a republic on a treaty basis. The treaty was signed by two communities that inhabit the island, thus enabling the emergence of the Republic of Cyprus. The Republic of Greece, the Republic of Turkey and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island became the guarantors of the treaty. In 1974, the Greek military junta carried out a coup d´état which toppled the Cypriot Government of President Makarios III. Change in political situation and hostility between the two communities led to a two-stage military invasion launched by the Turkish army. The Turks occupied 37 % of the territory of the northern part of the island. Since August 1974, the island has been divided into two parts – the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

The area that lies between the northern and southern part of the island is the so-called Buffer Zone (BZ), also called Green Line. The zone is controlled by the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP). The peacekeeping mission (hereinafter referred to as “mission”) UNFICYP is one of the oldest UN peacekeeping operations and has continuously lasted since 1964. The goal and role of the mission is to maintain the status quo inside the buffer zone, to ensure that the truce between the warring parties is maintained, to contribute to the restoration and maintenance of law and order in the island and to carry out humanitarian tasks. It has also kept the armed forces stationed in the island separated since 1974. 

The National Council of the Slovak Republic by its resolution No. 1372 of 10 May 2001 gave consent to the sending of the Slovak Armed Forces unit to UNFICYP. The first Slovak troops joined the UNFICYP mission in May 2001. The troops gradually took over command of one of the three sectors from the AUSHUGCON (Austrian-Hungarian Contingent). In June 2001, Sector 4 was officially handed over to Slovak command, and since then, SLOVHUNCON (Slovak-Hungarian Contingent) has assumed full operational responsibility for the Sector.  What is important is the fact that it was for the first time in history the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic assumed command in one of the mission sectors. Sector 4 is located to the east of the capital and it comprises two Slovak platoons and one Hungarian platoon. Since September 2011, the Armed Forces of the Slovak republic have had only one Force Protection Platoon in Sector 4, as the other one made up of 37 professional soldiers was handed over to the Armed Forces of the Republic of Serbia. Two Serbian soldiers serve within the Slovak contingent as Military Observer Liaison Officers (MOLO), and another two officers of the Croatian contingent have served in the Slovak contingent Sector 4 as MOLOs since September 2004. The total number of the AFSR members currently serving in UNFICYP HQ in Nicosia is 61 (including engineer platoon).

 

Slovak Republic in UNFICYP:

Members of the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic carry out tasks in the area of operational responsibility, together with the tasks necessary for the command of UNFICYP, set out in the mission´s mandate and arising from its role. The aim of the mission is to prevent the resumption of fighting between the Greek Cypriots and Turks, to ensure the observance of the truce between the warring parties and to contribute to the restoration and maintenance of law and order in the island.

The main role of the joint unit, set out in the mandate of the United Nations for the mission UNFICYP, is to observe the truce on the ceasefire line of the opposition forces, to prevent the recurrence of conflict and to help to normalise the situation.

With the regular patrolling in the buffer zone the Slovak Armed Forces units help to prevent any possible disruption of peace, violence and conflicts. To maintain the integrity of the buffer zone, the unit also performs operational tasks which ensure civilian projects implemented in the sector of responsibility, operational tasks within the so-called anti-hunting measures and tasks the aim of which is to provide rapid reaction forces and means for the UNFICYP mission command.

After the downsizing, MOLOs have become a new element in the UNFICYP structure since 2005. Their role is to ensure negotiations and a higher form of communication with opposition forces units on a level of liaison officers, battalion commanders or regiment commanders.



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