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‘Measures against Turkish incursion in buffer zone implemented’ (update 1)

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File photo: Ayios Dhometios checkpoint

By Jonathan Shkurko and Iole Damaskinos

Government’s spokesman, Konstantinos Letymbiotis confirmed the activation of diplomatic and military measures along the UN buffer zone on Thursday, following incursions by the Turkish army over the past few days.

The news comes a day after President Nikos Christodoulides said that both “visible and invisible” actions would be taken by the state in response to two violations of the buffer zone near Ayios Dhometios, Nicosia.

Christodoulides, who on Thursday morning met the personnel of the 6th American fleet at the Presidential Palace, also called the breach of the buffer zone “very serious”.

“The activation of measures has commenced, there’s a plan that started this morning but we cannot divulge more,” Letymbiotis said.

He also added that, while some measures are visible, others will remain undisclosed.

“Our aim is to ensure the status quo of the buffer zone, and we are in continuous communication with the UN peacekeeping force (Unficyp),” Letymbiotis said.

Asked whether Unficyp was consulted or merely informed about the measures, Letymbiotis mentioned that the peacekeeping force was informed of them beforehand.

“If the status quo of the buffer zone is not restored within a specific timeframe, other measures will be activated,” he said, adding that the information received from the peacekeeping force indicate that the situation in the area remains unchanged.

Later on Thursday, the north’s ‘foreign ministry’ rebuffed all accusations from the Greek Cypriot side, accusing it in a statement of “spreading false, inaccurate and baseless news through the press, claiming that the TRNC State aims to increase tension on the island”.

The first incident on Monday involved an incursion by 40 Turkish troops who installed a camera and a rotating antenna in an abandoned building, and shouted at residents. The second, on Wednesday afternoon, involved Turkish soldiers entering the buffer zone on a military vehicle and leaving following verbal direction from Unficyp staff.

Christodoulides told CyBC that the UN has informed the Greek Cypriot side about their ongoing efforts.

“The National Guard, the Republic of Cyprus, [had] decided on the method of response,” he said.

At the moment, soldiers are patrolling the area close to the buffer zone on the Greek Cypriot side.

According to the north’s ‘foreign ministry’, the abandoned building in question, known as ‘Maria’s house’ (Turkish Neriman’s house) is located within the territory of the ‘TRNC’.

“For a long time, the Greek Cypriot administration has been carrying out provocative activities by installing floodlights and cameras on the guard posts opposite the empty building, which is on the territory of the TRNC,” the statement continued.

“We want to remind that the continuation of peace and security in the region can only be possible if the Greek Cypriot administration ends its provocative actions,” the statement concluded.

Earlier in the day, Christodoulides also dismissed the comments made by a special advisor to Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar Hussein Isiksal on Wednesday, who said that the installation of an antenna and a rotating camera in the area controlled by the UN were carried out “for security purposes” and aimed at curbing illegal migration.

Christodoulides said his comments reminded him of ‘the familiar Turkish Cypriot approach used during the negotiations, which lack seriousness.”

Also on Thursday, a letter requesting that the peacekeeping force in Cyprus (Unficyp) ensure the reversal of violations of the Ayios Dhometios buffer zone and the restoration of the status quo ante, has been sent to the UN.

In a post on platform X, formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday morning, permanent envoy of the Republic of Cyprus to the UN, Andreas Hadjichrysanthou said he had sent a letter, under instructions, to the UN Assistant Secretary General responsible for peace operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, as well as to the UN Deputy Secretary General for political and peacekeeping affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, requesting that Unficyp ensure the restoration of the status quo.

 

Unficyp spokesperson Aleem Siddique, for his part, confirmed on Wednesday that no changes had been effected [by the peacekeepers] since the initial incursion of Turkish soldiers into the buffer zone. However, he said, the peacekeeping force continues to closely monitor the area.

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