Greek Cypriot farmers were once again turned away from disputed land in the buffer zone, with reports suggesting they entered an area without permission.
According to local media, farmers from the south on Thursday afternoon attempted to reach land ready for harvest inside the buffer zone in Denia, Nicosia, until Turkish soldiers blocked their way for coming too close to restricted areas.
“We expected this to happen during harvest season, and it did,” said Christakis Panayiotou, a community leader alongside the farmers.
Greek Cypriot farmers insist they have a right to tend to their crops
Last year, Greek Cypriot farmers said they were being harassed by armed soldiers in the buffer zone. Turkish Cypriot officials dismissed the allegations, saying there had been “no tension” and described reports in the media as propaganda.
Sources told Knews that farmers inside the buffer zone may occasionally stray off from an authorized area, but it was not made clear whether this was the case in this latest dispute. A number of similar harassment incidents are reported in other areas from time to time.
No comment from UNFICYP
UNFICYP officials would not comment on the incident, saying it is a practice to address such issues collectively as there are multiple incidents in the buffer zone.
The fields in question were registered with the Cyprus Agricultural Payments Organisation back in 2014, meaning that Greek Cypriot farmers could tend to their crops on Greek Cypriot-owned land inside the buffer zone as long as they had permission from UNFICYP and paid their dues to the land owners.
Knews has learned that there is an ongoing land dispute amongst Greek Cypriot farmers themselves, but it was not clear whether this was a factor in the latest incident. Demarcation lines reportedly could be a point of debate among farmers, often spilling into areas beyond the acknowledged boundaries.
Greek Cypriot farmers insist they have the right to tend to their crops, saying it is unfair that Turkish Cypriot farmers are allowed to harvest the crops which Greek Cypriots themselves had planted.
Reports said Greek Cypriot farmers called the Republic’s foreign ministry as well as the UN during the standoff, while members of EDEK party were seen in the area according to SigmaLive.