Greek Cyprus agrees base for Syria chemical inspections
NICOSIA - Agence France-Presse
A photo taken on August 31, 2013 in The Hague shows United Nations inspectors arriving in a van at the headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). AFP PhotoGreek Cyprus said on Friday that it has approved the establishment of a support base on the Mediterranean island for chemical weapons inspectors deployed in war-hit Syria.
"The Council of Ministers has ratified the agreement between the Republic of Cyprus and the UN-OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) for the establishment of a support base of the joint mission of UN-OPCW," said a government statement.
Greek Cyprus said it would facilitate the "safe presence and conduct of the activities of the joint mission".
A support base has been created within the UN-controlled buffer zone at Nicosia's disused airport from where inspectors will travel to and from Syria, some 220 kilometres away.
"The decision by the United Nations for the establishment of a support base of the mission in Greek Cyprus demonstrates the stabilising and upgraded role of Cyprus in the region," said the statement.
Earlier this month UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for the establishment of a "staging area and support base" for 100 staff in Greek Cyprus.
In a letter addressed to the UN Security Council, Ban also said Greek Cyprus would be home to the fundraising wing of the chemical weapons operation.
Greek Cyprus was used as a staging post for Iraqi weapons inspectors a decade ago.