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Cyprus

Buffer zone incident sparks condemnation and calls for ‘drastic measures’ (Updated)

buffer zone, fracas, Unficyp, Pyla road

The violent incidents in the buffer zone where UN peacekeepers were attacked between the Pyla and Arsos villages, were widely condemned in Cyprus on Friday as political parties hammered against Turkey’s actions.

In total, 12 UN peacekeepers were “violently” pushed back from their positions in the buffer zone, apparently by Turkish Cypriot military and police in plain clothes.

Disy described the incident as a “completely unacceptable provocation and a clear violation of the status quo.”

The party strongly condemned Ankara’s moves, calling on the government to up its diplomatic efforts through the international community “to send a clear message to the occupying force.”

It described the attack as part of an orchestrated effort from Turkey to create “a new status quo”. The only way to avoid similar incidents is to find a solution to the Cyprus problem, the party added.

Akel described the violence and threats against UN personnel “as a series crime” with the burden of responsibility falling on the forces in the north.

The incident was strongly condemned, with Akel adding both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership must respect Unficyp’s mission on the island.

Such actions, along with other provocative steps by Turkey undermine safety in Cyprus and efforts to solve the Cyprus problem. “These schemes from Turkey and (Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin) Tatar, are dangerous for all Cypriots.”

Meanwhile Edek heralded the government’s decision to move in a diplomatic fashion, saying nonetheless that it was proven “Turkey only understands actions that come with a cost.”

One such possible course of action would be taking “drastic measures” at the checkpoints to tackle the tourism to the north, and cripple its economy, Edek concluded.

Three peacekeepers were treated for minor injuries following the incident. The nationality of the peacekeepers is not yet known, but the Pyla area falls in the UN’s “Sector 4”, which is the responsibility of the Slovak contingent.

In addition, UN vehicles which were blocking access to the road were dragged out of the way by tractors, while other vehicles were rammed off the road. Three UN vehicles are now in an undriveable state on the side of the road, having suffered damage to their chassis.

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