President Nikos Christodoulides said on Saturday that the Turkish Cypriot side had effectively “backed away” from the mutual understanding reached on construction works in the buffer zone village of Pyla.

Speaking regarding the current “short pause” in proceedings in the village, he said “the pause we are currently seeing is due to the actions of the Turkish side and the United Nations … They asked for a pause so that through processes with … Turkey, they can ensure the implementation of what has been agreed.”

He added that the pause would not be permanent, saying he had received assurances from the UN.

“I can tell you they did not say such a thing. They have instead asked for time to implement the mutual understanding which exists,” he said.

Additionally, he said he “does not understand” the criticism levelled at the Greek Cypriot side regarding their construction works in the buffer zone.

“The Republic of Cyprus was working to not violate the status of the buffer zone,” he said, adding “if there is anyone who disagrees with this, he can come out publicly and say so.”

Construction works in the buffer zone in and around the village of Pyla have been halted since Monday, following a request of a “short pause” from the UN.

The requests came after days of heightened tensions in the area, days after Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Tahsin Ertugruloglu had demanded the Greek Cypriot side “immediately stop work” in the buffer zone.

In addition, Christodoulides spoke on the issue of the planned assignment of a UN Special Envoy to Cyprus, saying Turkey has been “making excuses” to not accept suggested envoys.

“It cannot be considered a reasonable response to reject someone because they come from a Commonwealth country. There have been many appointments like that,” he said. He added that the UN would be continuing its efforts to find a mutually acceptable envoy.

He added that there had been no new name suggested so far, saying “the information I have from the UN is that the person chosen by the Secretary-General continues to be on the table.”

“If someone is looking for excuses, if he is afraid to come to the negotiating table, he can find many excuses. But let’s hope, let’s give the Secretary-General time to see what he can achieve in this regard,” he said.