President Nikos Christodoulides said on Monday that the United Nations “requested a short pause” of construction work in the Pyla area.

Speaking following a day of rumoured tensions, he said there “were indeed problems and a reaction from the Turkish side”.

“We are asked by the UN that there be a short pause and that everything would go back to how things had been set out in the mutual understanding. We are monitoring the issue, we are in contact with the UN,” he added.

He said the Turkish side insists on claiming part of the buffer zone and added that there was “a conscious effort on the part of Turkish forces to challenge [the buffer zone’s] status”.

Earlier, Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar announced he will hold a telephone call with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday evening.

Christodoulides said he had no such plans to speak with Guterres.

“I hope that in this telephone conversation, [Tatar] in consultation with Turkey will give his approval for the appointment of an envoy.”

UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (Unficyp) spokesman Aleem Siddique had told the Cyprus Mail the situation in the village “remains calm” and that “construction is continuing”.

He added that “no unauthorised personnel” are in the buffer zone and that there is “no unauthorised construction” taking place.

“Our focus remains on trying to ensure the implementation of the mutual understanding,” he added.

Siddique’s reassurances poured cold water on rumours in the Turkish Cypriot press that encroachments had been made.

Haber Kibris reported that Greek Cypriot construction workers had “encroached on TRNC territory” in the morning, with Pergamos mayor Bulent Bebek saying soldiers and police had been mobilised in the area to prevent anyone from entering.

“We are on duty. What is ours will remain ours,” he said.

Newspaper Yeni Duzen had also said there had been “verbal tensions” in a meeting between Turkish Cypriot and Unficyp officials on Monday morning.

Later, they added that Turkish Cypriot reporters had been refused the right to pass through the checkpoint into Pyla.

They said Turkish Cypriot police had taken photographs of journalists’ identity cards, sent those photographs to someone, before returning them and saying, “there is a high-level order, we cannot allow you to pass.”

The reported tensions come days after Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Tahsin Ertugruloglu had demanded the Greek Cypriot side “immediately stop work” in the buffer zone.

UN sources at the time confirmed to the Cyprus Mail that Greek Cypriot entries into the buffer zone were authorised and did fall in line with the mutual understanding found between the two sides and the UN in October, but Ertugruloglu disagreed.

“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 had said.

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, on the basis 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.