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23 June, 2024
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Cyprus on edge as UNFICYP peacekeepers attacked in buffer zone

President's Agios Dometios visit amidst developing week

Yiannis Ioannou

Yiannis Ioannou

Four months ago, in late August, UNFICYP peacekeepers faced a violent attack within the buffer zone in Pyla by a group of Turkish Cypriots.

The incident not only went viral through a widely circulated video but also marked the most serious tension in the demilitarized zone in six years, post-Crises Montana impasse on the Cyprus problem.

The buffer zone's inclusion, over time, in areas like Strovilia, Pyla, or Agios Dometios, as potential crisis points between Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, and Ankara is not a new development.

While the Pyla incident resulted in a breakthrough agreement for the area, the recent placement of a camera by Turkish occupation authorities in a house on the buffer zone in Nicosia's Agios Dometios appears to follow a pattern challenging the status quo.

This move by Tatar and Ankara, at a critical juncture for resolving the Cyprus problem, not only complicates matters but reintroduces multiple semantics, both on the ground and diplomatically.

The President of the Republic visited Agios Dometios on Sunday to assess the situation in the buffer zone and reassure residents. On Monday, UNFICYP stated it was conducting frequent patrols in both Pyla and the Agios Dometios area.

The return of a pattern of direct challenges to the status quo by Tatar and Ankara after the Pyla incident is rooted in specific fait accompli involving political-diplomatic and military aspects:

- The issues of the Arsus-Pyla road and the installation of cameras in Agios Dometios occur at strategically important points for the Turkish occupation forces, with operational value and direct involvement of the Turkish army.

- These actions directly challenge the status of the buffer zone, the Cyprus problem's status quo, and the terms of reference of UNFICYP, subject to periodic renewal.

- Holistically, they question the "existential" resolution 186 of the Security Council of 1964 for the RoC and instrumentalize the Territorial chapter in the Cyprus problem, as the buffer zone returns under Greek Cypriot administration.

- They introduce a tit-for-tat logic as a narrative for the "TRNC," responding to actions of the E/C side outside the buffer zone.

The week ahead holds significance for the Cyprus problem, especially regarding two issues:

- The fate of the UN Secretary-General's attempt to appoint a special envoy, with Nicosia responding positively and waiting to see Ankara's stance on the proposed person.

- The intensifying situation behind the scenes due to Erdogan's visit to Athens, which, though not directly linked to the Cyprus issue, will likely reveal whether the Turkish President will support any movement on the Cyprus problem.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  bufferzone  |  AgiosDometios  |  Erdogan  |  president

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