The Pyla agreement reached between the two sides is an incredibly positive win-win development which can serve as the model for negotiations going forward, UN special representative Colin Stewart told local media.

Stewart described the process as the most positive sign so far since his posting to the island, emphasising that the two communities showed determination in reaching an understanding.

His comments, made in interviews with Politis and Yeni Duzen, can be captured by the statement: “Such a tense issue led to a very positive result. So I am quite optimistic.”

Work on the Pyla-Arsos road began earlier this week after an agreement was reached which soothed the tense situation which burst to the fore in August with the assault on UN soldiers.

The Turkish Cypriot authorities unilaterally announced their intention to build the road earlier in August and the situation quickly unraveled, drawing condemnation from the UN security council.

But Stewart on Wednesday emphasised that the agreement proves that the two sides can sit down and work things out – yielding positive results for both communities.

He reiterated that the road is to be built along with a solar power park and residential development.

As for the details, Stewart said that no military vehicles will be permitted along the road, while the new checkpoint which is to be built will be staffed by UN peacekeepers.

“From the moment that it was territory granted by the Republic of Cyprus then there is no question of it being staffed by Turkish Cypriots.

“One idea which was discussed and agreed upon by both sides is for the area of inspections to be staffed by a country which already has personnel in the UN peacekeeping force – that country is Slovakia,” he explained.

But Stewart added that the Turkish Cypriots have called for the road to only be used by their community, however since the road loads from the north into an EU zone then there must be inspections.

Therefore, he said, the matter of who is allowed to cross from the north is up to the Turkish Cypriot side.

As for the housing units as part of the residential development agreement, Stewart said these are to be available to both communities.

That, he said, can be achieved in two ways: either each project is bicommunal or if one side is more interested in one project then it can carry it out on its own.

He emphasised that the negotiations took place with a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot, and despite some discussion with Ankara “it cannot be interpreted that the negotiations were between the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey”.

He noted that two agreements were signed, one with each community, but this was for language purposes.