The UN peacekeeping force (Unficyp) is closely monitoring works in Dherynia, which are being conducted by the ‘authorities’ in the north near the buffer zone, UN spokesperson Aleem Siddique said on Thursday, after issues were raised by the local mayor over fortification works which seem to be happening within the buffer zone.
Following the concerns raised by the mayor, Andros Karayiannis, that digging activity appeared to be taking place, and that it seemed they were creating fortifications, Siddique said: “All the work taking place remains outside the buffer zone.”
He added: “The status quo inside the buffer zone remains intact.”
However, he did say that the UN peacekeepers are monitoring the area closely.
“If it is a violation then it will be in the secretary-general’s report in January.”
The issue of the Dherynia works surfaced shortly after the Turkish army was spotted in the Ayios Dhometios, Nicosia placing a camera on an abandoned house inside the buffer zone. That incident followed quickly on from Pyla in the summer, when the UN peacekeepers were attacked by Turkish Cypriots, trying to build a road in the buffer zone to connect the village with Arsos in the north.
Speaking about the Dherynia situation on Wednesday, government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said that the Greek Cypriot side was concerned about the works in Dherynia.
However, sources close to the UN told the Cyprus Mail that the situation in Dherynia is being investigated, and that it appears the works do not have a military intent but are rather sewerage or drainage works.
The source said that investigation into the works will continue, before giving a final assessment on whether it is a violation.
On Wednesday however, other information surfaced about the intentions of the Turkish Cypriot side, which said that the north is trying to use the violations in the buffer zone to contest the status quo.
According to information, various moves were being made on the Turkish Cypriot side to enter a discussion with the United Nations, something which is rejected by the Cyprus peacekeeping force.
At a journalist’s comment that the north does not seem to be retreating from the buffer zone in Pyla and Ayios Dhometios, the government spokesman on Wednesday said that “we expect the peacekeeping force to implement the terms of its mandate and to ensure the status of the buffer zone by restoring the status as it was before.”
Speaking about Dherynia earlier in the week, Karayiannis said that behind the barricade on Famagusta Avenue in the area of Kapparis, work has been going on for two to three months and can be seen with the naked eye.
“In front of these works they create a line of fortifications by digging a large trench,” he said.
Karayiannis said that as residents of the buffer zone area they want to know what the specific works of the north’s army are about and what their purpose is.
“The UN passes by every day and sees them, and I wonder why they haven’t reacted. The UN must inform [us],” he said.
As a resident of the area and a person who served his military service in the area, Karayiannis said that it is clear to him that these works are defensive and are some kind of preparation for any possible military actions.