Cyprus Mail

Another farmer reports harassment in the buffer zone (Updated)

denia 01
Unficyp soldiers in the buffer zone (Christos Theodorides)

Yerolakkos residents on Monday said they would demand a meeting with the Unficyp peacekeepers responsible for patrolling the buffer zone area by their community after another farmer reported being harassed.

According to assistant community leader Nicolas Hadjisofocleous, around 9.45 on Sunday morning he received a phone call by a farmer who had been working on his field in the Ovgou area.

The man reported that two men in civilian clothes approached him, shouting and telling him to leave before starting to throw rocks at his tractor.

One of them reportedly drew a knife and showed it to him.

Hadjisofocleous said he instructed the farmer to stay put and notified the Unficyp squad responsible for the area before heading there himself accompanied by a Cybc crew.

By the time Unficyp arrived the two men had returned to the north, but the one who reportedly drew the knife returned, escorted by a Turkish soldier, claiming there had been a misunderstanding.

Hadjisofocleous said that he showed the peacekeepers his special permit to enter the buffer zone, but neither the Turkish Cypriot man nor the Turkish soldier did so.

He also stressed that the farmer has all the permits required for cultivating land within the buffer zone, adding that the foreign ministry and defence ministry have been notified.

He said that Yerolakkos community leader Iacovos Parperis condemned the entry of a Turkish soldier in the buffer zone, and has drafted a letter requesting a meeting with the administration of the British peacekeepers responsible for the specific area in the buffer zone, which will be sent to Unficyp’s headquarters within the day.

The peacekeeping force had announced last week it would be stepping up its patrols inside the buffer zone 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 last Tuesday that Turkish troops were halted from moving nearer a Greek Cypriot farmer in the buffer zone area of Astromeritis after the intervention of a UN patrol vehicle.

That followed 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 two weeks ago.

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 for the peacekeeping force to 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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