The UN has officially recognised the recent disputed actions on behalf of the Turkish military in the Strovilia area as new violations of the military status quo in the region and has made demarches, the Cyprus foreign ministry said on Saturday.
In its announcement, the ministry said that the government was closely monitoring the situation and was in constant consultation with the UN, which is working towards lifting the violations in order to fully restore the status quo in the region.
“From the first moment, the government made relevant representations to Unficyp, to the UN Secretariat in New York, as well as to the members of the UN security council,” the announcement said.
According to the ministry, tensions rose on February 1, when the Turkish military, “citing unjustified allegations of so-called smuggling in the area, placed roadblocks on a rural road, preventing the residents’ access to their crops.”
In the ensuing days, it added, the Turkish army informed Strovilia residents that new procedures were in effect regarding their movement into and out of the village, while the ministry also asserted that checks were also conducted on UN personnel at the boundaries of British military territory (SBA).
The village of Strovilia is inside the Dhekelia SBA but the area in question, along with a few homes, sits just outside the boundary between Dhekelia SBA and the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state. It is understood that there never was an official buffer zone in the area.
The fuss was over a dirt road used by people when they wanted to avoid customs at the checkpoint. The Turkish side apparently blocked the road, prompting reports of an encroachment. The issue was settled after they moved their barriers slightly back and the British bases placed their own to prevent smuggling in a disputed zone in the Famagusta district, the British High Commission said on Friday.
Daily Phileleftheros had 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 the three Greek Cypriot families reside in three houses, it said. The incursion of the Turkish military had taken place between February 1 and 11.
CyBC also said the families were told by the Turkish military they now lived 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 moved its position forward in the area, violating the status quo in the village, according to the UN.
Despite repeated calls to withdraw 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 June 30, 2000.