Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides has called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to convey to Ankara the need for self-restraint with regard to continued violations in the UN buffer zone, expressing “profound concern” that escalating violations would lead to “a serious crisis.”
Greek Cypriot daily “O Phileleftheros” has published extracts of the letter to Guterres, dated December 22, before the UN Chief’s announcement on the appointment of his personal envoy on the Cyprus problem.
In his letter, Christodoulides cites attacks against members of the UN Peace Keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) in Pyla last August, the illegal installation of a surveillance camera in “Maria’s House” in the buffer zone in Agios Dometios in Nicosia last month, as well as other “serious” violations aiming at extending military control by the Turkish occupying forces in buffer zone, including the fact that the Turkish forces obstruct UNFICYP personnel to access to Wayne’s Keep cemetery, thereby imposing a “de facto” authority over the buffer zone.
All these incidents, the President adds, are incremental to other “permanent” violations in the buffer zone, such as Strovilia, Avlona, the Cettingaya pitch in Nicosia, including Erehthion street and the TC 15.
According to “Phileleftheros,” the President stressed that this escalation in the buffer zone by the Turkish forces in a period of a few months, can be interpreted solely as a hardening of Turkey’s stance on the ground and as a clear effort to grab and create new fait accompli,” expressing profound concern that these escalating violation by the Turkish forces “could create a serious crisis.”
At a time when the Middle East is ravaged by war, maintain peace and stability in Cyprus receives even greater importance. Moreover, as we expect the imminent announcement of a new UN envoy on Cyprus with the aim to facilitate the resumption of negotiations within the agreed framework, as defined in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions it is vital the situation on the ground be conducive towards this direction, the President stressed, according to “Phileleftheros.”
Therefore, the President stated, I call on you, Your Excellency, to tackle the matter, reiterating to Ankara the need for calm and restraint, so all parties to engage substantively with the new UN Envoy and to find a way to enter the negotiating table.
Concluding, the President pointed out it is important for the UN to record these violations and to call on Turkey to respect the status of the UN buffer zone and to restore the status quo ante.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Last Friday, the UN Chief announced the appointment of Maria Angela Holquin Cullear as is personal envoy on Cyprus. 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.