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20 June, 2024
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'The Dead Zone'

As the Buffer Zone becomes a focal point for potential crises, the government's actions, the Cyprus problem's trajectory, and societal security intertwine with issues of diplomacy and uncertainty

Yiannis Ioannou

Yiannis Ioannou

Last August, when we discussed the Pyla crisis, the incidents in the "border states," and the aftermath of the peacekeepers' beating in the buffer zone by Turks, the perception was that the government handled the situation proactively and was diplomatically prepared. A few months later, an agreement on Pyla was announced, but shortly afterward, we witnessed its non-implementation. The recent incident in Agios Dometios not only confirmed Turkey's familiar pattern of creating standoffs within the buffer zone but also highlighted the gap between public statements and effective actions on the ground.

The President's recent assertion that decisions have been made but not publicized summarizes how the buffer zone's situation will unfold during this current five-year period, particularly amid the Cyprus problem's deadlock and the failure to resume dialogue. The buffer zone isn't solely a reality linked to the Cyprus problem; it is primarily a potential hotspot for crisis events that could either initiate a series of developments leading us back to dialogue and a solution or solidify occupation and partition. This could happen dramatically in case of a hybrid threat along the Green Line, a small-scale crisis with military involvement, or the establishment of a hard border.

Incidents like those in Pyla, Agios Dometios, or Strovilion in the past should serve as constant reminders. For the government and the political system in Cyprus, any action entrenching the occupation or setting the stage for a crisis involves the peculiar geography of our divided homeland—the buffer zone that bisects the island, a reality since the 1960s. For citizens, any significant crisis within the buffer zone impacts their sense of security and the overall future of their physical and political survival. Living near the buffer zone, with Turkish occupation forces' soldiers shouting slogans, doesn't instill a sense of security in the residents. This underscores the security dilemma for our community: Heightening this feeling of insecurity in the absence of progress in the Cyprus problem is a recipe for ongoing crises (with escalation and de-escalation) and a catalyst for political and social transformations we will likely face in the near future.

The buffer zone is the field where we will all be tested in the coming years. The government will be judged on the gap between communication and delivery, the Cyprus problem as an unresolved issue facing either a definitive deadlock or a potential return with a slim chance of resolution, and Cypriot society likely to encounter security challenges affecting daily life, especially in areas close to the Green Line. The buffer zone is a realm of awareness. Let's fully comprehend its significance.

Twitter @JohnPikpas

[This op-ed was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  problem  |  Turkey

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