Turkey encroaches buffer zone again

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An incident involving Turkish soldiers taking up a position in the UN-controlled buffer zone appears to be part of the broader approach by Ankara to challenge the status quo, said government spokesperson Konstantinos Letymbiotis.

On Monday, a military unit, slightly larger than a platoon (consisting of approximately 30 to 40 individuals), breached the demilitarised zone in the Nicosia suburb of Ayios Dometios and unlawfully entered an empty residence known as “the house of Maria.”

Reliable information indicates that Turkish occupation forces, dressed in civilian attire, erected a metal pole, likely equipped with a thermal camera.

Before this, the house had been electrified by installing a floodlight.

Letymbiotis confirmed reports of an increased presence of Turkish soldiers in the house in the past few days, sparking concerns about the expanding occupation forces in the area, reminiscent of the events in Pyla in August.

“Obviously, the two actions cannot be disconnected.

“At this moment, we are in constant communication with the peacekeeping force closely monitoring the Ayios Dometios area, the House of Maria, to restore the status of the buffer zone,” said Letymbiotis.

In August, the Turkish Cypriot side unilaterally announced its intention to build the road through the buffer zone between the villages of Pyla and occupied Arsos.

Turkish Cypriots and settlers entered the buffer zone and attacked UN personnel and vehicles of UNFICYP.

The international community, including five permanent members of the UN Security Council, condemned the attack, and discussions followed to resolve the issue.

According to an understanding reached, a single urban development area will be created to ensure the harmonious coexistence of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in Pyla.

This includes a large residential development area, the paving of a road leading towards Troulli village, the creation of photovoltaic parks and the expansion of the urban use area.

“What we can say is that challenging the status of the buffer zone cannot be accepted.

“When the unacceptable incidents occurred in Pyla, there was an unprecedented reaction from the international community due to the diplomatic initiatives of the Republic of Cyprus as an EU member state and through the active diplomacy we exercise”.

The government spokesperson said Nicosia is in contact with all partners in the EU and Security Council member states, informing them about the incidents in the buffer zone.

UNFICYP spokesperson Aleem Siddique said: “We are working with the Turkish Cypriot side to prevent tensions and to ensure that the status quo is maintained.”

He added: “Unauthorised construction inside the UN buffer zone is strictly prohibited.”