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Turkish Cypriot advisor defends buffer zone camera installation (Updated)

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File photo: Ayios Dhometios checkpoint

In an attempt to clarify the situation that has developed around the issue in the buffer zone close to Ayios Dhometios, Hussein Isiksal, a special advisor to Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar on Wednesday said that the installation of an antenna and a rotating camera in the area controlled by the UN were carried out “for security purposes”.

Speaking to Turkish Cypriot media outlet Bayrak, Isiksal explained that the camera installed on an empty building in the buffer zone known as ‘Maria’s House’ “is aimed at combating illegal migration.”

He also mentioned that the management of the buffer zone would be a topic of discussion during future negotiating talks on the Cyprus problem.

“We placed a security camera there. Weren’t you [the Greek Cypriot side] the one calling for border security? Here’s border security for you,” Isiksal said.

“We are fighting illegal migration. Why the commotion and the outrage,” the advisor continued, claiming that “the Greek Cypriot side believes the buffer zone is theirs.”

“The Greek Cypriots think that the buffer zone is theirs and that the UN forces are just guests,” Isiksal said. “The buffer zone is not yours, it is under the supervision of the UN, and the camera was installed to monitor the area.”

According to the spokesperson for the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (Unficyp), Aleem Siddique, there have been no changes concerning developments in the buffer zone in the area of Ayios Dhometios.

However, he also said that the peacekeeping force continues to closely monitor the area.

The issue has raised red flags in the Republic, as President Nikos Christodoulides on Tuesday warned there would be consequences to the fact that around 40 armed Turkish Cypriot soldiers were spotted in the buffer zone near Ayios Dometios on Monday.

Christodoulides said if the status quo in the buffer zone was not restored as the UN has said it would be, then there would be consequences.

“This is a very serious violation. The United Nations has informed us that the situation [status quo of buffer zone] will be restored,” he said.

“If it is not restored, we have already made some decisions that will be implemented, decisions that will not be made public. But, I repeat, the UN has informed us that the situation will be restored.

Isiksal also commented on the situation surrounding the village of Pyla, where construction works initiated by the Turkish Cypriot side sparked violence in the buffer zone last August.

At the moment, construction works are on hold, but Isiksal said that ongoing talks between the two sides under the UN auspices, are close to breaking the deadlock.

“We are on the right track, thanks to diplomatic efforts,” he said.

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