Last week's events at Pyla, involving an attack by Turkish Cypriots and settlers on personnel and vehicles of UNFICYP, in relation to the construction of the Pyla road and the occupied village of Arsous in Larnaca, have rekindled discussions about the fluidity of the status of the buffer zone. A week after the incidents, "K" found itself in the mixed village of the Larnaca province to assess the impact of these events on the relationships of the village residents. Life in the village appeared to follow its usual routine, with residents and shops going about their daily activities, and nothing overtly indicated tension... at least not on the surface.
However, most of the residents we spoke to seemed reluctant to open up. Those who did spoke on condition of anonymity. Some downplayed the significance of the events, while others, including Turkish Cypriots, claimed that it was all part of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's plan, serving military purposes and not having any humanitarian motive in opening the road. A common thread among those we interviewed was that the events of the past week had not affected the relationships between Greek and Turkish Cypriot residents and that life continued at its regular pace in their village.
Perspectives from Both Sides
While talking to Greek Cypriots, many emphasized that the road, contrary to what the occupying authorities claimed, was not built for humanitarian reasons but rather for military purposes. As for their relationships with Turkish Cypriots, they stated that these relationships had remained unaffected and unchanged. One Greek Cypriot even mentioned that the road had existed before 1974 and that it wasn't of value to their compatriots.
In our conversations with Turkish Cypriots, a resident bluntly stated that the road's construction wasn't for the benefit of the local Turkish Cypriots, dismissing it as a military advantage for Turkey. Another Turkish Cypriot added that the road was a means to achieve military objectives and that it didn't serve the local population's interests.
Both Greek and Turkish Cypriots shared concerns about the road's purpose and potential consequences. Some believed it aimed to establish control over the buffer zone, while others thought it might have commercial significance. Despite these opinions, the villagers' daily lives seemed relatively undisturbed.
Leaving the village, it was evident how delicate the balance was in areas like Pyla, where change, whether positive or negative, constantly looms.
[This article was translated from its Greek original]