Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Tahsin Ertugruloglu demanded the Greek Cypriot side “immediately stop work” in the buffer zone at Pyla on Wednesday.

Greek Cypriot workers have entered the buffer zone in recent days to begin making designs on plots of land which will be converted into residential properties, as was set out in the mutual understanding found last month.

United Nations sources confirmed to the Cyprus Mail that the Greek Cypriot entries into the buffer zone were authorised and did fall in line with the mutual understanding, but Ertugruloglu was of the opposite opinion.

“We do not associate these works with the road. We met with the UN, but suddenly, work vehicles entered these agricultural lands and started working. We did not make a statement to the press earlier because we did not want to increase tensions, and a high-level meeting took place on Friday,” he said.

Ertugruloglu argued that for 30 years the Greek side has been violating the buffer zone in the area by building infrastructure, roads, universities, a stadium “as if it is their own territory”.

“It is a mistake to think that in return for this road project we will give something to the Greek Cypriots. This is the mistake the UN made,” he stressed.

He added that “we said we wanted this work to be stopped. We had previous projects in the area, and they were stopped. If there is to be a change in the area’s status quo, we need to act carefully. Our position is work should only be done in this area after negotiating with us.”

The mutual understanding contained designs for 400 plots of land north of the village, which are set to be turned into residential properties. In addition, a large solar farm is set to be built in a vacant area northwest of the village.

It is in this area that Greek Cypriot teams have been working in recent days, with the understanding that they are implementing the part of the mutual understanding which pertains to a “civil use area” including residential properties and a solar farm while the Turkish Cypriots build a road from Pyla to the village of Arsos in the north.

UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (Unficyp) spokesman Aleem Siddique said Unficyp “has taken note of the Turkish Cypriot side’s concerns and remain committed to solving multiple issues with the Turkish Cypriot side to find a mutually acceptable solution”.