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‘We have returned to the status quo in Pyla’ (updated)

Head of Unficyp Colin Stewart meeting with President Christodoulides

The situation in Pyla has “returned to the status quo before the illegal actions of the Turkish army which led to the incidents with the peacekeepers”, President Nikos Christodoulides said on Tuesday.

Christodoulides was speaking regarding the mutual understanding found to build a road between the buffer zone village and the village of Arsos in the north, while ensuring the neutrality of the buffer zone.

“I consider this consensus important … [The initiative] was started so as to avoid, on the one hand, the violation of the status of the buffer zone, and not to create new faits accomplis and give military or any other advantages to the Turkish army,” he said.

He added, “from here on we will see the implementation of what has been agreed. I consider the development of the region to be essential. It can act as a model [for other areas].”

Christodoulides’ comments come after closed session was held by the UN special representative on Monday in New York with members of the Security Council, to inform them of developments in Pyla.

Diplomatic sources told the Cyprus News Agency that special representative Colin Stewart referred to the “positive and constructive attitude of both parties [Cyprus and Turkey]” and noted that the agreement was “a first step that will help the resumption of the peace process”.

During the briefing, Stewart emphasised that some details of the agreement are pending regarding the checkpoint that must be built inside the buffer zone.

The agreement provides for roads to be built and people and products will pass from the occupied to the free zones. According to the European Union’s green line regulation, this traffic must be controlled.

The UN special representative pointed out that the deal further provides for the creation of an urban use zone, which is of benefit to individuals of both sides who have properties in the area and added that construction works are expected to start next week.

Several member states congratulated Stewart on the achievement and welcomed the consensus reached.

Meanwhile, sources report that French and the US members called for the appointment of a UN special envoy to restart negotiations between the two sides. The US members praised the will to compromise shown by both sides over Pyla.

“I am happy about the [United Nations’] reports, I have been informed this morning about what was communicated yesterday to the Security Council, not only from [Special Representative Colin] Stewart but also from … members of the Security Council,” Christodoulides said.

“I am glad everyone feels we should focus on the big picture, which is the resumption of talks.”

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