The last three Australian civilian police officers serving with the UN peacekeeping Force in Cyprus will leave the divided island at the end of this month.
And Australia Police Unit seniors will be in Nicosia next week to mark the event, informed sources told incyprus.com on Friday.
“The Australian Government’s decision to not continue its policing contribution to UNFICYP beyond June 2017, after 53 years, was announced publicly in May 2015,” a source said.
“This was part of that year’s Federal Budget tabled in the Parliament in May 2015. In advance of this Australia consulted with the Republic of Cyprus, representatives of both communities, the three Security Guarantors, as well as the UN in New York and with a range of key UNSC members,” added the source.
As of December 2016, there were seven Australian police officers serving in the United Nations Police whose job is to contribute to the maintenance and restoration of law and order in the buffer zone.
Australia’s commitment to UN efforts provided 1600 dedicated police peacekeepers who have served in Cyprus over half a century since 1964 – three of whom were killed.
In addition, Australian Minister for Justice Michael Keenan who visited Cyprus in late April discussed the conclusion of the current police mission.
He reiterated to his Cypriot counterpart, UN and other key players that Australia – as a successful federation – would assist a re-united Cyprus to develop its federal police force.
Australia, through its High Commission in Nicosia, continues to support, and has stepped-up support in the last year, for bi-communal initiatives.
Such as the Cyprus Academic Dialogue (CAD), and to encourage and engage greater involvement of Cypriot women from both communities within the peace-process, as well as longer term peace building, reconciliation and bi-communal cooperation.
This is consistent with Australia’s very active on-going support of the objectives of UNSCR 1325 drawing off its own long experience in assisting lasting resolutions to its own region’s conflicts.
It also remains a key principle and pillar of Australia’s foreign policy and peacekeeping approaches.