President Nikos Christodoulides is taking all the necessary measures to remove fortifications near the buffer zone being built by the Turkish army, stated Dherynia Mayor and head of the committee of rural and semi-rural municipalities, Andros Karayiannis, on Thursday.

The issue of fortifications being built in the north near the buffer zone in Dherynia arose a few months ago following Turkish violation in the buffer zone in Ayios Dhometios, Nicosia. Turkish forces had entered the UN-controlled area and installed a camera on a house in the buffer zone, which has since not been removed.

Speaking after meeting Christodoulides on Thursday, Karayiannis said they had a constructive discussion with the president and Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou about the fortifications, which caused concern in the area.

As he noted, these fortification works concern all the buffer zone areas, especially the six municipalities near the area. He added that the president clarified that there is a clear challenge to the buffer zone by the occupying army and that he is taking all necessary steps to remove this violation.

Furthermore, local authorities have requested further incentives from the interior ministry regarding housing projects in all buffer-zone bordering areas. This, as Karayiannis explained, aims to encourage people, especially young people, to come and live right next to the “barbed wire” [the buffer zone].

The second topic of discussion, according to Karayiannis, was the opening of the Pyrroi checkpoint, an issue raised by the Mayor of Athienou. Christodoulides made it clear that he will not open any other checkpoint until the Pyrroi is opened, always in conjunction with the demands of Turkish Cypriots, who demand the opening of a checkpoint in Kaimakli for commercial purposes.

Asked if the commission left the meeting satisfied, Karayiannis said they are satisfied with what they heard from the president and the minister. He added that they cannot intervene in policy issues, as these are handled by the government officials. However, on issues of maintaining the population in the buffer-zone areas, they have asked the interior minister to announce the housing plans for the buffer zone areas.

“The assurances we received were that the new, upgraded plan for rural, mountainous and isolated areas will be announced in early March,” he added.

The Yeri mayor at the meeting also requested that the checkpoint at Archaias Ledras near the village also be investigated.

Karayiannis said that Christodoulides showed interest in all the topics that were raised by the buffer-zone municipalities.