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North announces intention to build ‘unauthorised’ road through buffer zone (Updated)

pyla centre
Pyla village centre

Government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis has condemned the north’s move to construct a road through the buffer zone between the villages of Pyla and Arsos.

His condemnation comes after after the north’s ‘foreign ministry’ announced on Thursday afternoon that it will carry out “improvements” to the road, which is currently closed to the public.

Currently, the only way to drive between the two villages is to drive through the British base in Dhekelia and the village of Pergamos.

Letymbiotis said the north’s authorities are “attempting to create new settlements within the dead zone by planning an illegal entry into the area” and added that the road will connect Arsos with an “advanced illegal military outpost”.

“This is an attempt to seriously violate the status quo”, he said, adding that the Cypriot government is working to prevent the plans from going ahead.

He added that “contacts are going on at the highest level by the international community with Ankara, emphasising the seriousness of the violation, as well as the negative consequences of such an action, both for the prospect of resuming negotiations on the Cyprus issue and on the Euro-Turkish one”.

“The Cypriot government expects Unficyp to prevent these plans in accordance with the terms of its mandate”, he said.

Unficyp had earlier said it was “concerned” by the north’s plans to carry out “unauthorised construction work” in the buffer zone.

They say they have “been engaging with both sides and made progress in fostering a mutually agreeable way forward in the Pyla area”.

They also called on the Turkish Cypriot side “to continue these [negotiation] efforts before construction work commences” and added that they are “continuing to monitor the situation closely”.

In their own earlier announcement, the north’s ‘foreign ministry’ said the project had been prepared for “purely humanitarian reasons, to facilitate the transportation of our citizens living in the village of Pyla to TRNC territory”.

“Despite the constructive attitude of the Turkish Cypriot side regarding the road project, which has been going on for more than 25 years, and all the calls it has made for this purpose, steps have not been taking to facilitate the daily lives of our citizens in Pyla and our goodwill has not been reciprocated,” they said.

The ‘ministry’ then went on to list roads operated by the Republic which run through the buffer zone, including the road between Pyla and Oroklini, as well as the road between Larnaca and Ayia Napa, which passes over land owned by Turkish Cypriots.

In addition, they cited the expansion of the University of Central Lancashire campus into the buffer zone, and the construction of an open-air cinema in Dherynia as “proof the Greek Cypriot side’s violations of the buffer zone are not limited to road constructions”.

They added that “we expect the UN, which maintains its presence and activities on the island with the goodwill of the Turkish Cypriot side, to adopt a constructive and cooperative stance in this regard”.

The Cyprus Mail understands that the UN has the power to block the road for the construction workers if and when the project begins, but Unficyp cannot use force unless peacekeepers or UN property come under attack.

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