Any claims that the status of Taksim football pitch within the UN buffer zone will change is wrong and misleading, Unficyp spokesman Aleem Siddique said on Wednesday following reports in Greek Cypriot media works being done in the area will change the status quo.

Siddique said that the field, which belongs to Cetinkaya football club one of the founding clubs of the Cyprus Football Association, will only be used for training as had been done in the past.

“The area will be used for football training only, as it has been done in the past, with strict regulations in place to manage its use and protect its status within the buffer zone,” he said.

He said that the field remains in the buffer zone, and that following talks with the club and the Turkish Ministry of Youth and Athletics, the renovations and construction began.

A report earlier in the day by Phileleftheros suggested that Turkey and the north were trying to create a new fait accompli in the buffer zone by renovating the stadium.

According to the newspaper’s unnamed sources, Nicosia had requested a written response, and the foreign ministry requested a meeting with Unficyp chief and UN special advisor Colin Stewart.

Meanwhile the only political party to comment on the matter, Edek said that this is also an attempt by Turkey and the north to create a new fait accompli, as is the case in Strovilia, Denia and Varosha.

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(Christos Theodorides)

The party said in their announcement that the government needs to take measures against the north for these violations.

“The government cannot remain apathetic to such threats,” the party said.

In Denia, farmers have reportedly been harassed by the Turkish army in the buffer zone.

Most recently, in August, Unficyp said they were investigating the matter after armed Turkish soldiers were caught on video harassing a Greek Cypriot farmer in the village in the buffer zone.

Meanwhile, in Strovilia a similar situation has occurred where farmers were blocked from accessing their crops in the buffer zone.

According to the foreign ministry, tensions rose in February 2019, 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.”

The village of Strovilia is inside the Dhekelia British base but the area in question, along with a few homes, sits just outside the boundary between Dhekelia and the north. It is understood that there never was an official buffer zone in the area.

In comments on Tuesday, the ‘foreign minsiter’ Tahsin Ertugruloglu said: “The United Nations delegation and especially the head of mission Colin Stewart, continued to be in contact in good faith with us and especially with the presidency. In the end an agreement was reached and today the work began. There was also work that needed to be done previously, which we completed. All kinds of measures have been taken; every aspect of the matter has been evaluated. A full agreement has been reached with the United Nations.”

The ‘foreign minister’ added that the entire discussion took a bit longer to hash out the details as there were ‘very small points’ that needed to be addressed.

He added that one small issue remains, which is that of a fence behind the walls of old town, which the Turkish Cypriot side wants to be made higher so that balls don’t fall on the other side.