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Cyprus

UNSC to discuss situation in buffer zone during closed session on Monday (Update)

new unficyp photo
File Photo

The situation at the buffer zone in Pyla remains calm, Unficyp spokesman Aleem Siddique said on Sunday morning, two days after a violent altercation against UN peacekeeping forces.

“Everything is calm. The peacekeeping force is maintaining its presence in the area and closely monitoring the situation,” he told CNA.

UN peacekeepers were beaten by Turkish Cypriot military and police personnel on Friday, while attempting to block the unauthorised construction of a road through the buffer zone between the villages of Pyla and Arsos.

The UN Security Council is expected to discuss the incident on Monday, during a scheduled closed session that will take place at 3pm in New York (10pm Cyprus time).

The agenda includes consultations on the Middle Easte and Syria, however the developments in Pyla have been add to the agenda.

Siddique assured Unficyp forces were on the ready to avert and works linked to the contentious road.

The assault led to three peacekeepers treated for minor injuries. One was punched in the face, in an attack that sparked condemnation both on the local and international front.

The British High Commission, the French Embassy, and the US Embassy in Cyprus expressed “serious concern” at the launch of unauthorised construction of a road leading from the north into the UN-delineated buffer zone to the bi-communal village of Pyla.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the assault, saying “threats to the safety of UN peacekeepers and damage to UN property are unacceptable and may constitute serious crimes under international law”.

Meanwhile, Russia has stayed mum on the attack, making it the only permanent member of the Security Council that has not condemned the incidents in Pyla, the injuries to peacekeepers and the damage to UNFICYP vehicles.

CNA reported that on Friday after the incident, the British delegation drafted and circulated to the 15 members of the Security Council a draft statement to the press condemning the Turkish attacks against UNFICYP and put it under a silent procedure that ended at 3 o’clock on the same day.

Russian diplomats sked for an extension of the deadline until Monday because they were waiting for instructions from Moscow, the same information said.

A day before the altercation, the north’s ‘foreign ministry’ announced 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.

Cyprus’ government reacted to the news saying 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.

 

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