first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram The federal government has begun a detailed review of its resourcing of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). The AFP confirmed this week to Neos Kosmos, that the evaluation – ordered by the Department of Finance and Deregulation – is to be complete by the end of December. An AFP spokesperson said the review would inform a decision on “the size and nature of Australia’s deployment [in Cyprus]” as part of the federal budget cycle in the first half of 2013. Invited to comment on the possibility of reductions to the AFP’s contingent, the spokesperson said that “whilst the review remains ongoing, it is not appropriate for the AFP to comment further”. Meanwhile, concerns have been raised in Australia’s Cypriot community over the government’s intentions for the review. President of PASEKA – (Justice For Cyprus Co-ordinating Committee, Australia), Mr Constantinos Procopiou told Neos Kosmos: “My concern is that this is based on a political decision to withdraw or to reduce the AFP’s numbers, and for economic reasons. “Particularly now that Australia is a member of the UN Security Council, it must show an example to the rest of the world.” Following recent announcements by the UK that it might consider downsizing its commitment to UNFICYP, Mr Procopiou said that he was concerned other nations in the peacekeeping force may follow suit. “It’s vital the UNIFCYP stays,” said the PASEKA president. “Turkey has more than 40,000 troops on Cyprus, with nobody to stop them they could advance anywhere they want in Cyprus. Especially now given the situation over oil and gas in the area.” Federal MP Maria Vamvakinou downplayed the possibility of the review’s findings leading to a diminishing of Australia’s support for the international peacekeeping force. “This review is standard procedure and I am optimistic that it should not result in any reduction of funding that would affect the level of the AFP’s contribution to UNIFCYP,” said Ms Vamvakinou. Since the Turkish invasion of 1974, UNFICYP’s mandate has included supervising the ceasefire and maintaining a buffer zone between the lines of the Cyprus National Guard and of the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot forces. The AFP provides 15 officers on yearly rotation to the 20-nation force which serves in policing, military and civilian roles. AFP officers also support the civil affairs branch of the mission to deliver humanitarian services and assist the military branch maintain the integrity of the buffer zone. Some 14,000 AFP personnel have taken part in the peacekeeping force in Cyprus since it came into existence in 1964.last_img

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