Farming incident with Turkish military

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Greek Cypriot farmers have protested a new incident of harassment by Turkish troops in the UN-controlled buffer zone outside Nicosia.

The community leader of Denia, in Nicosia district, Christakis Panayiotou, protested a new heated exchange Tuesday between Greek Cypriot farmers and Turkish soldiers.

He said the Foreign Ministry and the National Guard have been notified and will visit the area.

In response to a request by the Cyprus News Agency to comment, UNFICYP said that its presence prevented anything worse.

According to Panayiotou, a farmer went to the area to cultivate his fields.

UN peacekeepers present approached the Greek Cypriot and urged him to leave the area “because it is dangerous, and the Turks would arrest him”.

The farmer replied that he had been cultivating the field for 15 years, but the UN told him that these were their instructions, said Panayiotou.

According to him, the UN did not go to the outpost the Turks had set up to protest.

Half an hour later, Turkish soldiers arrived with trucks, but the farmer was inside his tractor finishing his job, and therefore, they could not arrest him.

Panayiotou said the Turks brought more soldiers to the area.

UNFICYP said the farmer was working without authorisation inside the buffer zone and north of the ceasefire line “despite being warned several times that he should move back”.

“UNFICYP’s presence averted anything worse from happening,” said UNFICYP Spokesperson Aleem Siddique.