UN confirm incident with Turkish soldiers in buffer zone, Foreign Ministry follows and handles the issue

The UN in Cyprus have confirmed that an incident involving a Greek Cypriot farmer and Turkish soldiers took place in the buffer zone, at Dhenia village, in Nicosia district, on Tuesday, at approximately 11.30 local time, while the Cypriot Foreign Ministry noted that it`s been following and handling the whole issue.

Dhenia community leader, Christakis Panayiotou, told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that when the Greek Cypriot farmer entered the buffer zone to work there along with some of his workers,  armed Turkish soldiers appeared and asked him to leave, otherwise they would shoot him.  “The UN were notified and we advised him to leave and so he did along with his workers,” Panayiotou said.

The UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) spokesperson, Aleem Siddique, told CNA that “we can confirm there was an incident involving a local farmer and the Turkish forces inside the buffer zone today.”

He went on to say that “the incident was resolved peacefully and will be reported in the Mission`s regular reports to the Security Council in due course.”

Moreover, Siddique noted that “UNFICYP continues to engage both sides to ensure calm is maintained across the buffer zone.”

Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Demetris Demetriou, told CNA, that “we are aware of the issue, we are following and handling it.” “We are in contact with the peacekeeping force to handle the issue,” he added.

Dhenia community leader told CNA that last week Turkish settlers had also entered the buffer zone with some of their animals that destroyed around 2,000 carob trees that Greek Cypriot farmers had planted.

He noted that one of the farmers visited the buffer zone today to see how he could plant the trees again and this time armed Turkish soldiers who were in a military post situated 200-300 meters away, in the Turkish occupied areas, went into the buffer zone and threatened the farmer that they would kill him if he did not leave.

“The UN were notified and we advised him to leave and so he did along with his workers,” he added.

Panayiotou said that they reported the incident to the UN, the Foreign Ministry and the National Guard, noting that members of the Cypriot armed forces had seen the incident from a military post between Dhenia and Akaki village.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

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