Media reports in the south say a number of Greek Cypriot farmers have been provoked by Turkish military presence in the buffer zone in Denia, while details remain unclear over the incidents.
(Click here for an update to the story)
According to Cyprus News Agency, a number of incidents took place inside the buffer zone last week, in the Denia area in Nicosia, where Greek Cypriot farmers reported they were being harassed by Turkish soldiers.
'The man, who was on foot as I have been told, was asked to leave, which he did without any incident'
UNFICYP spokesperson Aleem Siddique told Knews that he was aware of one incident on Saturday morning, where a Greek Cypriot farmer walked into an area without authorisation and was asked to leave by UNFICYP personnel.
“The man, who was on foot as I have been told, was asked to leave, which he did without any incident,” Siddique said.
The spokesperson went on to say that a number of different conditions apply in the area depending on specific parts in the buffer zone, where farmers often obtain permits to tend to their crops in specific areas.
But according to Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Demetris Samuel, the government is aware of a number of complaints by farmers, who say they were harassed by Turkish soldiers.
“For each separate incident, the Ministry has filed complaints with the UNFICYP, asking for immediate intervention by the UN peacekeeping force to restore the rights of the farmers so that they can tend to their crops, as well as their safety,” Samuel said.
A handful of farmers who have been cultivating the land in question for five years were suddenly prevented from doing so by Turkish soldiers, according to media reports in the south.
Land dispute inside the buffer zone
But Knews was unable to establish whether the farmers had valid permits for the areas in question.
Reports said the fields 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.
But the latest incidents took place in an area where Turkish Cypriot farmers were also seen working the land.
According to daily Politis, Greek Cypriot farmers were crying foul saying they already invested in their crops while last week’s incidents came as a direct threat to their safety.
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 have been reported in other areas recently.