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Foreign ministry gets involved in Deneia buffer zone incident

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The foreign ministry on Tuesday said it has started proceedings with the United Nations in relation to an incident in the buffer zone in Deneia on Monday, during which armed Turkish soldiers chased away a Greek Cypriot shepherd while he was grazing his sheep by throwing stones at him.

The ministry said relevant steps will be taken at the UN and that they are in contact with the Deneia community leader who reported the incident.

Foreign ministry spokesman Demetris Demetriou said they are concerned both about the incident and the frequency with which similar events occur.

He said a meeting will be held with Unficyp in the coming days to try and boost their role in the region.

Speaking to media on Monday, Deneia community leader Christakis Panayiotou, said there is a video recording of what happened during the incident which took place 500 meters inside the dead zone.

Panayiotou stated that around 6pm on Monday, six Turkish soldiers came down from their posts with weapons in their hands and asked the Greek Cypriot farmer to leave, threatening him. One soldier even armed his weapon, Panayiotou said.

The community leader noted that the farmer has a licence to graze his animals in the area and that, due to the rising cost of feed, farmers are increasingly opting to supplement their animals’ feeding needs by pasturing.

Panayiotou said that at the time of the incident there was no UN peacekeeper in the area, and that other incidents that have occurred in the past are leading to a lack of sense of safety.

“UN patrols only pass by in a land rover every three hours,” Panayiotou said, adding that UN staff have told him they cannot help as they are unarmed and there purely as peacekeepers.

The leader of Deneia has filed complaints about the incident with the ministry of foreign affairs, the United Nations and the national guard.

The press representative of Unficyp, Alim Siddique, when asked about this, told Cyprus News Association (CNA) that the UN are investigating the incident.

“The investigation needs to be completed before we reach any conclusions,” he said.

He added that the safety of civilians within the buffer zone remains the highest priority for the peacekeeping force.

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