Cyprus Mail

Unficyp stepping up patrols in buffer zone

Unficyp is stepping up its patrols inside the buffer zone, the peacekeeping force said on Wednesday.

The announcement came after incidents of Greek Cypriot farmers and Turkish troops coming into much closer contact than is typically desired, under disputed conditions.

Reports from the government-controlled areas emerged on Tuesday that Turkish troops were halted from moving further towards a Greek Cypriot farmer in the buffer zone area of Astromeritis after the intervention of a UN patrol vehicle.

That follows on from a series of incidents primarily in Denia – which appears to have taken centre stage after repeated reports emerged of a farmer being confronted by Turkish troops, as recently as last week.

In that case, Denia community leader Christakis Panayiotou told local media that he was informed by the farmer that three army trucks with about 30 soldiers approached and threatened him, insisting he leave – despite having a licence to cultivate there. Similar incidents in Denia have typically only involved four to six soldiers.

But Unficyp instead offered that the farmer was working without authorisation inside the buffer zone.

Recent incidents of such a nature are likely to further compound disagreements between the Republic and the north, with the Unficyp caught in the middle.

Unficyp is facing pressure from the ‘government’ in the north following calls that the peacekeeping force sign an agreement with it to carry out its mission in the ‘TRNC’. This is understood to be legally impossible for the UN to do.

But the Republic has argued that Unficyp is giving in to pressure from the north, pointing to works on the Cetinkaya stadium near Ledra Palace.

At the heart of the issue is that every UN peacekeeping operation must sign a status of forces agreement with the host’s authority – which in this case is the Republic of Cyprus, and not the unrecognised ‘TRNC’.




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