UN declare deal on Pyla road dispute

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UNFICYP announced that an understanding has been reached on arrangements to resolve the Pyla road dispute with Turkish Cypriot authorities.

“An understanding has been reached on arrangements that will resolve the ongoing situation on the Pyla/Pile plateau,” a statement from UN Chief of Mission Colin Stewart said.

He said a “few modalities are still being discussed, but the framework understanding will come into effect as of Monday”.

UNFICYP’s announcement was welcomed by the British High Commission and the US and French embassies.

“We recognise the constructive approach taken by the sides in the process, as well as the essential role of the UN, to find a way forward to develop Pyla/Pile in a manner that meets the needs of both communities and continues to ensure security in the area”, they said in a joint announcement.

They reiterated their full support for UNFICYP and the UN’s engagement with the sides to avoid tensions in Cyprus that could undermine a peaceful solution.

The development followed a standoff between Turkish Cypriot officers and UN peacekeepers while they tried to build a road between the buffer zone village and Arsos village in the north.

On August 18, Turkish Cypriot police and others physically attacked a group of British and Slovak peacekeepers who obstructed crews illegally working on a road that would encroach on the UN-controlled buffer zone.

UNFICYP did not give details of the agreement, but it involves the eventual opening of the road and construction of authorised residential property in the Pyla area and a checkpoint on the road west of the village.

The Turkish Cypriot side insisted the road was being built for humanitarian purposes to ensure safe and quick passage for village residents to and from the north.

The Republic feared road construction may allow Turkish military forces to strengthen their position in the Mesaoria plain.

On their behalf, the United Nations Peacekeeping force in Cyprus declared that the road would be unauthorised and stated their intention to block its construction.

In August, Turkish Cypriot personnel entered the buffer zone, pushing and kicking UN peacekeepers while bulldozers overturned UN vehicles.

The international community, including the UN Security Council, condemned the actions of the Turkish Cypriot side.