Cyprus Mail

Government says Unficyp should stop illegal activities in buffer zone (Updated)

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Razor wire along the buffer zone (Photo: Christos Theodorides)

The United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (Unficyp) on Friday said it was in touch with the foreign ministry after it released a statement expressing concerns about the force not stopping illegal activities in the buffer zone, specifically the reconstruction of the Cetinkaya football stadium.

The ministry said it has “serious concerns” as, despite its repeated attempts, Unficyp “has not taken steps to terminate the illegal activity in the area and announced its intention to ‘allow’ the use of the space.”

Reconstruction works on the stadium were completed in January, following an agreement between Unficyp, the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey in October. The stadium, which was used by Cetinkaya football team, had been closed since 2014, when it was used for a special stage of the Cyprus International Rally.

The ministry underlined that as the host country for Unficyp and the owner of the plot of land where the illegal activities are taking place, the Republic of Cyprus has not given its consent or approval for any works or use of the said space.

The government, it added, has repeatedly explained to Unficyp the serious particularities presented by the wider area, due to the very frequent violations of the status quo by the occupying army.

The ministry further repeated that the buffer zone is under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus, which has temporarily suspended the exercise of its military jurisdiction solely to facilitate the execution of the peacekeeping force’s mandate.

The Republic of Cyprus, it added, “continues to exercise its civil jurisdiction within the ‘buffer zone’.”

Therefore, “we expect that Unficyp will proceed with the necessary actions to terminate and reverse the continued violations in the area,” the statement stressed.

Asked about the statement, Unficyp spokesman Aleem Siddique told the Cyprus News Agency that the force is “aware of the statement, and are in touch with officials to discuss the issues raised”.

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