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Tensions rise over Strovilia violations by Turkish military

Strovilia crossing

The government said on Thursday it was in contact with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (Unficyp) regarding recent tensions in the Strovilia area, where the Turkish military is said to have further advanced its position, in violation of the status quo around the buffer zone.

“We are handling the matter in cooperation with the United Nations. As of now, no assessment can be made and thus no further statements can be made at the time,” said government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou.

Earlier in the day, asked to comment on media reports, Unficyp spokesperson Aleem Siddique said the peacekeeping force was aware of tensions in Strovilia and was liaising with both sides to defuse the situation.

Daily Phileleftheros reported that the Turkish military had advanced in the Strovilia area, increasing the extent of the territory under occupation. They reportedly placed barrels, bars and chains to cut off an area where three Greek Cypriot families reside in three houses.

Citing sources, the state broadcaster confirmed the report. The incursion of the Turkish military had taken place between 1 and 11 February, it said.

CyBC said also that the Greek Cypriot families have been told by the Turkish military that they now live in the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ and that they would therefore need travel documents issued by the breakaway north if they wish to visit the nearby British base.

In 2000 the Turkish military moves its position forward, violating the status quo in the village of Strovilia, a UN-controlled strip of land situated between the Sovereign Base Area in Dhekelia and the ‘TRNC’. Despite repeated calls by the UN to pull back to its original position, the Turkish military has not complied.

In its latest renewal of Unficyp’s mandate last month, the UN Security in its official resolution called on the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkish forces to restore in Strovilia the military status quo which existed there prior to 30 June 2000.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in his report prior to the mandate renewal had said that “military positions established by the opposing forces in violation of the status quo inside the buffer zone and at Strovillia remained in place and are classified as permanent violations”.

“In a concerning development, the reporting period saw renewed restrictions of movement and even threats directed at Unficyp military personnel in Strovillia,” he said.

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