12° Nicosia,
17 June, 2024
Home  /  News

Locals near buffer zone puzzled over circling plane

Greek Cypriots want to know why Turkish plane circled for hours, UN investigating incident


Two Turkish airplane sightings flying over local areas were reported Thursday by Greek Cypriots near the buffer zone in rural locations outside the divided capital, with UN officials saying they are looking into the incident.

According to local media, Denia local council head Christakis Panayiotou said fellow residents called him up Thursday evening around 6pm to report their concerns about a “plane circling over the buffer zone.”

“This is very rare and most of them who were concerned had lived through 1974 and know what planes can do,” Panayiotou told local media.

Additional reports said a similar incident was reported earlier by locals east of the capital, who said they saw a plane circling over the buffer zone. Panayiotou said he believed that incident took place near Geri a day earlier, but he added he was not certain.

President Nikos Christodoulides said on Friday he was “concerned every day with the whole situation,” during remarks about the incident.

“Of course it is something that we cannot overlook under any circumstances whatsoever especially at the present time, and for this reason I said we will take specific actions,” Christodoulides said.

No information in the Turkish Cypriot media was immediately available while no reports of wildfires were reported in the immediate area.

UN officials said they were looking into the incident while it was not fully clear whether the plane had flown near or over the buffer zone.

There were also reports recently that members of the Greek Cypriot National Guard were having special training with Ukrainian counterparts visiting the island, with exercises focusing on demining

Aleem Siddique, the chief press officer for the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, told Knews they were looking into the incident and meeting with both sides.

According to the Cyprus News Agency, Panayiotou said a Turkish military plane flew in a circling pattern 5 or 6 times over the buffer zone in Denia, adding the sighting lasted for about an hour before the plane flew north.

Panayiotou has been drawing attention over the years to the buffer zone near his community in rural Nicosia, where incidents are reported frequently in the media, usually involving local farmers and Turkish soldiers.

Greek Cypriots say farmers are systematically being harassed by armed soldiers while trying to tend to fields in the buffer zone, while Turkish Cypriots claim incidents often get started by civilians who venture into unauthorized areas.

The buffer zone also made news recently after the Greek Cypriot side hired special border agents to patrol areas for migration and other purposes, drawing objections from the Turkish Cypriot side that claims the measure is a violation of status quo.

Knews understands there were no sightings of border agents at the locations in question during Thursday’s reported incident, which comes after local media said recently that members of the Greek Cypriot National Guard were having special training with Ukrainian counterparts visiting the island, with exercises focusing on demining.

Last month UNFICYP data showed there were still dozens of suspected hazardous areas contaminated with mines or explosive remnants on the island.

Buffer zone incidents are reported to the United Nations Security Council regularly by UNFICYP, which was established in March 1964 in an attempt to prevent the recurrence of interethnic violence between the two major ethnic communities on the island.

Turkish troops landed on Cyprus in 1974 after a short-lived Greek-inspired coup engineered by Athens. The island remains divided between a recognized south in the Republic of Cyprus governed by Greek Cypriots and a Turkish Cypriot north not recognized by any country except Turkey.

Cyprus  |  Nicosia  |  Denia  |  Denya  |  Deneia  |  buffer zone  |  United Nations  |  military  |  plane  |  Greek  |  Turkish  |  Cypriot  |  UNFICYP  |  Aleem Siddique

News: Latest Articles

Photo from Cyprus Passion FB page

Stay cool or fry trying!

Meteorologists sound red alert as blistering heatwave brings record 45°C – relief in sight soon
 |  NEWS