That, pursuant to section 2 of the Defence (Amendment) (No 2) Act 1960 (No. 44 of 1960), Dáil Éireann approves of the despatch of a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force for service outside the State as part of the international force which pursuant to a Resolution on Cyprus adopted by the Security Council of the United Nations on the 4th day of March, 1964, has been established by that Council for the performance of duties of a police character.
As Deputies are aware, the purpose of this resolution is to enable the Government to comply with the request of U Thant, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, for the provision of an Irish contingent to participate in the United Nations peace-keeping force in Cyprus. The Government have decided to comply with the request, subject to the approval of the Dáil.
While I do not propose to enter into a detailed account as to how the situation of grave difficulty which currently exists in Cyprus has come about, it may perhaps be helpful to the House if I recall briefly the main events from which the present crisis has developed.
The Republic of Cyprus, as Deputies are aware, was established after the acceptance and signing of four agreements, known as the London and Zurich agreements, arrived at between Britain, Greece, Turkey and representatives of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities after years of armed hostilities.
First, there is the Agreement on Independence for Cyprus—then a British colony—which was signed in London on 19th February, 1959, by Britain, Greece and Turkey with the accord of Archbishop Makarios representing the Greek Cypriot community and Dr. Kutchuk representing the Turkish Cypriot community. This provided the basic articles of the Constitution of Cyprus with elaborate provisions for the benefit and protection of the Turkish minority.
Secondly, there is the Treaty concerning the Establishment of the Republic of Cyprus signed on 16th August, 1960, by which Britain transferred full sovereignty over the island to the Republic of Cyprus but reserved for herself two sovereign base areas at Akrotiri and Dhekelia. Britain also reserved certain training areas, communication stations and other installations throughout the island.
Thirdly, there is the Treaty of Guarantee signed on 16th August, 1960, by which the Republic of Cyprus undertook to ensure, and the British, Greek and Turkish Governments undertook to guarantee the independence, territorial integrity and security of Cyprus, as well as respect for its Constitution. Article 4 of this Treaty provided that in the event of a breach of its provisions, Britain, Greece and Turkey would consult together with respect to measures necessary to ensure their observance. In so far as concerted action might not prove possible, each of the three powers reserved the right to take individual action.
Lastly, a Treaty of Alliance between Cyprus, Greece and Turkey signed on 16th August, 1960, provided for measures of joint defence, for the presence of Greek and Turkish military units in Cyprus and for the training of a national defence force in Cyprus.
All four Agreements were implemented on 16th August, 1960, when Cyprus became an independent Republic. Hopes were expressed at the time by all concerned that the solution provided by these agreements for the problems of Cyprus would prove efficacious, and would result in the promotion of harmonious relations between the Greek and Turkish communities, and the development of the economic and social well-being of the island as a whole.
The intervening few years have shown that far from these hopes being realised, a situation akin to civil war has come into existence. The situation has not only jeopardised the future of all Cypriots, both Greek and Turkish, but by reason of the importance of the eastern Mediterranean area, is also a potential danger to international peace and order.
I do not propose to deal with the possible causes of the deterioration of relations between the Cypriot communities or with the consequences of some of the constitutional and other stipulations embodied in the agreements under which the new state of Cyprus was set up. There does, however, appear to be rather wide acceptance of the fact that certain provisions of the Constitution such as those relating to powers to veto legislation, the existence of separate municipal administrations and the representation of the communities in the Parliament, the army, police and public services, which were designed to benefit and protect the Turkish minority, have led to the present state of crisis and have contributed to the armed hostilities which have so regrettably occurred between the two communities.
The fighting which broke out shortly before last Christmas brought to a head the troubles which had been smouldering for some time previously. The immediate cause of the trouble was the rejection of 13 proposals to amend the Constitution which the President, Archbishop Makarios, had presented to the Vice-President, Dr. Kutchuk. With the approval of the Government of Cyprus, British, Greek and Turkish troops on the island grouped together to assist in the preservation of a cease fire and the restoration of peace. A conference attended by representatives of Cyprus and the three other powers began in London on 15th January of this year in an endeavour to find a solution to end the conflict. However, while the conference was proceeding, renewed acts of violence occurred and agreement upon the need for the presence of a more broadly based international force on the island was quickly reached by the parties at the conference. Equally quickly, however, it became clear that the composition and organisation of such a force and its terms of reference were matters on which there was the sharpest clash of opinion. For some weeks there was complete lack of agreement amongst the parties as to what countries were to contribute troops, under whose auspices they should be despatched, and, if under the auspices of the United Nations, whether under the control of the Security Council or otherwise.
Substantive discussion of the problem began in the Security Council on the 19th February but it was not until 4th March that a resolution, sponsored by five of the non-permanent members of the Council, proved to be in a form acceptable to all.
This resolution recommended the creation with the consent of the Government of Cyprus, of a United Nations peace-keeping force in Cyprus, and specified that:
... The composition and size of the force shall be established by the Secretary-General in consultation with the Governments of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey and the United Kingdom. The commander of the force shall be appointed by the Secretary-General and report to him. The Secretary-General, who shall keep the Governments providing the force fully informed, shall report periodically to the Security Council on its operation; ... the function of the force should be, in the interest of preserving international peace and security, to use its best efforts to prevent a recurrence of fighting and, as necessary, to contribute to the maintenance and restoration of law and order and a return to normal conditions; ... the stationing of the force shall be for a period of three months, all costs pertaining to it being met, in a manner to be agreed upon by them, by the Governments providing the contingents and by the Government of Cyprus. The Secretary-General may also accept voluntary contributions for that purpose.
The resolution further empowered the Secretary-General to designate, in agreement with the Government of Cyprus and the Governments of Great Britain, Greece and Turkey, a mediator, who shall use his best endeavours with the representatives of the communities, and also with the aforesaid four Governments, for the purpose of promoting a peaceful solution and an agreed settlement of the problem confronting Cyprus, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, having in mind the well-being of the people of Cyprus as a whole and the preservation of international peace and security. The mediator shall report periodically to the Secretary-General on his efforts.
Deputies are aware that as well as the request made to us, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Finland and Sweden were also requested to contribute troops to the United Nations force in Cyprus. In common with some of these other countries the Government considered that it was necessary to obtain clarifications of the terms of reference of the force and of the conditions under which it would operate before arriving at a decision upon the request. The clarifications which were given in reply by the Secretary-General sought to define the character and function of the force in accordance with the guiding lines laid down in the Security Council resolution of the 4th March, 1964.
The Secretary-General views the United Nations effort in Cyprus as having two stages: the first is to bring to an end the current sporadic fighting between the communities by the deployment of the United Nations force, cease fire and other arrangements; the second is the task of the mediator in seeking long-range solutions of basic problems.
The Secretary-General has the responsibility for the establishment of the force and for its direction. He has appointed Lieutenant-General P.S. Gyani of India to command the force and has issued detailed instructions to him for the implementation of its functions as set out in the Security Council resolution of the 4th March, 1964. Having in mind the purely international character and responsibilities of the force, such instructions were not a matter for negotiation with any Government either directly concerned in the situation or contributing contingents to the force. The Secretary-General will, however, fully inform the representatives of the Governments providing troops of the substance of the instructions and directives given to the Commander.
In implementation of the Security Council resolution, it is the intention of the Secretary-General that initially the force should comprise about 7,000 men and that its adequacy should be reviewed later in the light of experience.
Of the countries that have been approached for contingents to date it now seems most unlikely that a contingent can be obtained from Brazil and the Austrian contribution is to consist of a medical unit. The composition of the force initially will, therefore, be comprised of contingents provided by Canada, Great Britain, Finland, Ireland and Sweden. Should it become necessary later on to increase the size of the force beyond 7,000, other countries might be approached for troops following consultations prescribed by the Security Council resolution.
It is not the intention of the Secretary-General to deal directly with the two communities of Cyprus on matters affecting the establishment, organisation and directives of the force. As regards matters concerning the establishment and stationing of the force, the Secretary-General's relations will be with the Government of the Republic of Cyprus whose representatives were accepted as spokesmen for the Government in the recent meetings of the Security Council.
In the conduct of specific operations the force will, of course, seek the full co-operation of the Government and of the two communities in Cyprus.
The disarming of forces which are not part of the regular military or police establishments of the island is not considered to be a function of the United Nations force. A basic principle of the force is that its troops will carry arms which, however, are to be employed only for self-defence, should this become necessary in the discharge of its functions under the Security Council resolution of 4th March, 1964.
It is recognised, however, that the United Nations might usefully take some non-forcible measures towards securing that all non-regular forces should surrender their arms. There might be in the first instance a strong appeal to the community leaders by the Secretary-General or the mediator. Indeed, it might become necessary for the mediator to deal with such matters as an unavoidable prelude to his discussion of long-term solutions. The mediator, therefore, early in his work, might have to seek out the community leaders and try to work out some arrangements with them for controlling the weapons carried by non-regulars, if not for actually disarming them.
It will be seen therefore that it is contemplated that the disarming of non-regular forces should be undertaken at the community level and the United Nations force would not assume such responsibility. Should a request be made to the commander of the force to undertake this responsibility, he would refer it to the Secretary-General for a decision and the Secretary-General would consult with representatives of the countries having contingents in the force before taking final action.
While the disarming of non-regular forces is a problem to be dealt with initially by negotiations at the community level, it is not believed that this can be achieved by the mediator or anyone else before the United Nations force is deploved in Cyprus. On the contrary, it is believed that the arrival of the force in Cyprus is a necessary condition for progress on such preliminary problems and for the mediator to begin his work in an atmosphere affording him some chance to obtain fruitful results.
I understand that the Secretary-General, in the light of the Security Council resolution of 4th March and of considerations of a general nature, regards the operations of the United Nations force and the activities of the United Nations mediator as separate and distinct undertakings and intends that they will be kept so. The United Nations force, being an impartial, objective body, has no responsibility for political solutions and indeed will not try to influence them one way or the other. The force commander and members of it authorised by him will, however, be free to have such contacts with the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities as they consider desirable to fulfil their mandate. In the nature of the case, the activities of the force and of the mediator will be complementary in the sense that the extent to which the force will be able to ensure quiet on the island will make it possible for the work of the mediator to have a better chance for success, while, on the other hand, if the mediator is able to make some progress in any direction, the functioning of the force will become easier.
Under the terms of reference of the Security Council resolution the mediator should use his best endeavours with the representatives of the communities and also with the Governments of Great Britain, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey, for the purpose of promoting a peaceful solution and an agreed settlement of the problem confronting Cyprus, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, having in mind the well-being of the people of Cyprus as a whole and the preservation of international peace and security. It is the intention of the Secretary-General to keep the members of the Security Council and the Governments contributing contingents to the force well informed on developments in the work of the mediator. On 28th March, with the agreement of the Governments of Cyprus, Great Britain, Greece and Turkey, the Secretary-General designated Mr. Sakari S. Tuomioja of Finland, with the consent of his Government, as the United Nations mediator for Cyprus. Mr. Tuomioja has had talks with the Secretary-General in New York and is now in Cyprus.
The Secretary-General intends to keep in close touch with the representatives of all Governments providing contingents to the force. It is considered desirable that consultations with contributing Governments should be conducted by the Secretary-General. No arrangements are, therefore, envisaged for any special consultative machinery in Cyprus between the force commander and representatives of contributing Governments which might lead to duplication and possible confusion. The commander will, of course, as appropriate, seek the advice of officers from the services of the contributing states serving on his headquarters staff and of the commanders of the contingents.
A Status of Force Agreement modelled largely along the lines of the similar agreement between United Nations and the Government of the Congo has been concluded between the United Nations and the Government of Cyprus. This agreement defines certain of the conditions necessary for the effective discharge of the functions of the United Nations force while it remains in Cyprus.
I may recall that the Secretary-General's formal request for an Irish contingent for the United Nations force in Cyprus reached us on 5th March. In the complex situation obtaining in Cyprus and in view of the terms of the Security Council resolution of 4th March, the Government had certain hesitations and required clarifications on a number of points before they could come to a decision on the request. In one regard they felt that an assurance was called for. Deputies will remember that at the time we were approached by the Secretary-General there was much comment in the foreign press about Cyprus and many suggestions about shifting sections of the population from one part of the island to another, and for the enforcement of a solution by outside powers. The Government felt strongly that during the presence of the United Nations force on the island there should be no attempt by outsiders to intervene, or to impose by force or by threat of force, a solution of the problem—and particularly one by partition.
After careful consideration of the many issues involved and in the light of the preliminary clarifications received from the Secretary-General, the Government agreed in principle, subject to the approval of Dáil Éireann, to comply with the Secretary-General's request to contribute a battalion of approximately 500 men to the United Nations peace-keeping force in Cyprus on the understanding:—
(1) that the function of the force would be to maintain peace while the process of mediation to achieve an agreed solution of the problem confronting Cyprus was in progress and that the force would have no function in influencing the character of the settlement to be made or its subsequent enforcement;
(2) that an assurance would be forthcoming from the Governments of Great Britain, Greece and Turkey that during the presence of the force in Cyprus, they would not intervene, or attempt to impose by force, or by threat of force, a solution of the problem—and, particularly, a solution by partition;
(3) that every effort would be made by the Secretary-General to ensure that the Greek and Turkish Governments would place under the command of the United Nations their troops now stationed in Cyprus; and
(4) that, if it should be agreed to be necessary to keep a United Nations force in Cyprus after the expiration of three months,
(a) other member-countries of the United Nations would be asked to provide contingents, and
(b) the Government would be free to withdraw the Irish contingent, irrespective of the progress of the mediation and the state of affairs in Cyprus at that time.
This decision was conveyed to the Secretary-General on 13th March.
The Secretary-General in his reply of 19th March confirmed the correctness of the Government's understandings. In regard to the assurance sought that the Governments of Great Britain, Greece and Turkey would refrain from intervening or attempting to impose a solution by force or threat of force during the presence of the United Nations force in Cyprus, the Secretary-General stated that he could with confidence assure the Government that their conditions in this regard had been adequately met by the acceptance and support given by the Governments of Great Britain, Greece and Turkey to the Security Council resolution of 4th March and to a confirming Security Council resolution of 13th March, 1964.
In the light of this, the Government decided to seek the approval of the Dáil for sending a battalion to join the United Nations peace-keeping force in Cyprus for a period of three months and the Secretary-General was so informed on 24th March. It was made clear when informing the Secretary-General of this decision that if during the presence of the United Nations force in Cyprus the Governments of Great Britain, Greece and Turkey, or any one of them, should intervene, or attempt to impose by force or by threat of force a solution of the problem, and particularly a solution by partition, the Government expected that immediate steps would be taken to withdraw the Irish contingent. At the same time it was decided to increase the strength of the battalion from 500 to 600 all ranks.
I come now to the question of financing of the force and of our contingent. The Security Council resolution of 4th March recommended that "all costs pertaining to the force be met, in a manner to be agreed upon by them by the Governments providing the contingents and by the Government of Cyprus". In addition, however, the resolution empowered the Secretary-General to accept voluntary contributions for this purpose.
The view of the Government in regard to the financing of the peace- keeping operations of the United Nations has been stated so often both in this House and in the United Nations so as to render any detailed explanation unnecessary. All such expenses we believe should be the collective responsibility of all members and the non-observance of this principle can only result in a reduction of the effectiveness of the organisation. Accordingly, in my reply of 13th March to which I have already referred, I informed the Secretary-General that the Irish Government viewed with regret the decision to raise funds on a voluntary basis for the United Nations peace-keeping force in Cyprus. They regarded it as a grave and unwise departure from the principle of collective responsibility. Subject to Dáil approval, the Government will pay the usual United Nations overseas allowances to our troops and will accept no reimbursement from the United Nations unless it is levied on all members of the United Nations in the normal way.
I have endeavoured to inform the Dáil of the considerations which moved the Government to decide in favour of sending a contingent to Cyprus. The decision was not one easily taken. It was arrived at only after the most careful weighing of the many and complex issues involved in a most intricate situation. Every effort has been made to secure in advance such assurances and definition of terms of reference as will reduce to the minimum the possibility of misunderstanding.
As Deputies are aware preparatory arrangements for the sending of an Irish contingent to Cyprus, should the Dáil so approve, have already been taken. The Chief-of-Staff and the Quartermaster-General had talks with the Secretary-General and United Nations officials in New York on the military aspects of the operation and a group of Irish officers went to Cyprus to look into arrangements and conditions on the spot. Recruitment of our contingent from existing members of the Defence Force is, of course, on a voluntary basis and I have been informed by the Minister for Defence that many more than the required 600 officers and men have volunteered to serve in the United Nations force in Cyprus. Practically all of these have served previously with the United Nations force in the Congo operation which is due to be wound up at the end of May. There is no doubt therefore that, on a volunteer basis, we are sure of providing a contingent which will, as in the past, do credit to the Army and to the nation.
As Deputies are aware, the United Nations force in Cyprus became operational on 27th March and, if the Dáil approves this resolution, the advance party of our contingent will be on its way to Cyprus within a few days and the main body in about two weeks' time or so. I am fully confident that the battalion which stands ready for Cyprus will maintain the high standards of efficiency and devotion to duty displayed by our troops both in the Middle East and in the Congo and that it will uphold Ireland's reputation as a loyal defender of the United Nations Charter. Ireland has a right to be proud of its Army.