The foreign ministry on Tuesday expressed its “satisfaction” with the United Nations’ Security Council’s (UNSC) condemnation of Friday’s incident in the buffer zone in Pyla.
They added that they “expect an immediate end to the illegal actions of the Turkish side, based on the call of the UNSC to remove all illegal constructions and prevent further such actions, military or non-military, within and along the ceasefire line”.
“The strong reaction of the international community is a clear response to the accusations of the Turkish Cypriot leadership and Turkey, and sends a strong message that such actions will not be accepted,” the foreign ministry said.
Describing their own actions following Friday’s incident, they said they “acted in a coordinated manner at the diplomatic level, in full cooperation with permanent and non-permanent members of the UNSC, with the EU and Unficyp, and always in close and continuous cooperation with the Greek government”.
They also expressed “the full solidarity of the government and the Cypriot people towards the personnel of Unficyp”.
The foreign ministry’s statement comes after UNSC) members issued a formal condemnation late on Monday night.
Following discussions of a British draft statement in New York, which continued until midnight Cyprus time, the fifteen members of the UNSC condemned both the construction works in the buffer zone by the Turkish Cypriot side, as well as the attack on members of the peacekeeping force, in the bicommunal village of Pyla.
“Attacks targeting members of the peacekeeping force may constitute crimes under international law,” the UNSC statement said.
“The UNSC condemned the Turkish Cypriot attacks and the damage to UN vehicles and expressed wishes for the speedy and full recovery of the peacekeepers who were injured.”
The press statement further called for a complete halt to the unauthorised roadworks which it said constitute a violation of the status quo in the UN buffer zone and are against the resolutions of the security council.
The statement went on to support the mandate of the peacekeeping forces in Cyprus, saying that “the members of the Security Council reaffirmed their full support for Unficyp and its mandated authority in, and delineation of, the buffer zone and called for the removal of all unauthorised constructions and the prevention of unauthorised military or civilian activities within and along the ceasefire lines.”
The UNSC encouraged both sides “to take tangible steps in support of the efforts of the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative and to fully engage with Unficyp to promote a conducive climate”.
Commenting on the statement and the situation in Pyla later in the evening, President Nikos Christodoulides said that the statement and reaction of the international community is the most appropriate reaction to the events that unfolded in the village over the weekend.
“The international community gave the clear answer to Mr Erdogan and the breakaway regime and I don’t need to say anything more.It is significant that there was this unprecedented reaction from the international community,” he said.
The north’s ‘foreign ministry’ was irked by the UNSC’s statement, describing it as “unfortunate”.
“As in Unficyp’s statements, the UNSC has distorted the picture in their statement,” they said, adding that Unficyp had “by means of its soldiers and vehicles displayed a provocative attitude” on Friday.
They added that the incident “revealed once again how far Unifcyp, which has its budget covered by the Greek Cypriot administration and Greece, has an attitude which is far from impartial towards the parties on the island, and instead acts as the spokesperson of one party on the island.
“The call of the UNSC, which to this day has never issued any warning to the Greek Cypriot side … is not a consistent and fair approach,” they said.
They added that “we would like to remind the UNSC’s member states once again that there are two separate peoples and states in Cyprus, and we would like to emphasise that accepting and respecting this is the right step to take.”
The attacks on Friday by Turkish Cypriot police against UN peacekeepers who were attempting to block the unauthorised roadworks, were quickly met with international condemnation by the British, French and the US. Top ranking EU officials also joined in, as did China.
The latest comes from the US State Department which on Tuesday issued a statement saying it unequivocally condemned the attacks and pointing out that “the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus plays a crucial stabilising role”.
“It is vital that Unficyp is able to fulfill its Security Council mandate to be able to work with stakeholders in Cyprus to create the political space for a permanent settlement agreement that will be based on the relevant resolutions,” the US State Department statement said.
Russia, meanwhile, which remained for days the only Security Council member not to address Friday’s events, issued a statement of condemnation just before the UNSG meeting.
New video footage surfaced on Tuesday of last Friday’s incident, with some on social media claiming that the footage showed a “two-sided” affair rather than the previously described “assault” on Unficyp personnel.
However, Unficyp spokesperson Aleem Siddique clarified to the Cyprus Mail that “our peacekeepers are only allowed to use force in self-defence”.
He added that “when the incident occurred, our peacekeepers were vastly outnumbered, and they were violently pushed back. Any use of force on the part of our peacekeepers was purely for the purpose of self-defence.”
He also said that as of Tuesday morning “all remains calm” in the area and that there has been “no change since yesterday”.
“We are monitoring the area closely,” he said.
Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar insisted on Monday that the roadworks will continue and hit out at the UN as well as the Greek Cypriot side.
In a statement to the Anadolu agency on Monday, Tatar accused the Greek Cypriot side of intending to “purify Pyla from the Turkish Cypriots” and make it a completely Greek Cypriot village.
“There is nothing [from the UN] when it comes to that side, but they have such an attitude when it comes to us!”, he added.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meanwhile, said on Monday evening that the physical intervention of UN peacekeepers on the sovereign territory of the ‘TRNC’ is unacceptable.
Speaking after a meeting with his cabinet on the matter, Erdogan stated that “as a guarantor power Turkey will not consent to lawlessness on the island – particularly in the buffer zone”.