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Russia joins condemnation amidst UN buffer zone tensions

UN Security Council urges immediate halt to unauthorized construction in Pyla buffer zone


Swift condemnation has followed the recent attacks on United Nations peacekeepers and the resulting damage to UN vehicles by Turkish Cypriots. A draft statement addressing the incidents in the village of Pyla, including plans by Turkey, is currently being considered by the Security Council.

On Monday, August 21st, the Security Council convened to discuss various matters, notably the events that unfolded within the neutral zone in Pyla on the previous Friday. The incidents involved assaults on members of the peacekeeping force and Turkish activities in the region.

In relation to the situation in Cyprus, the draft statement asserts that "Security Council members have expressed grave concerns regarding the commencement of construction by the Turkish Cypriot side within the UN-designated neutral zone in Pyla, which is in violation of Security Council resolutions." Concurrently, Security Council members "strongly condemned the assaults on United Nations peacekeeping force personnel and the resulting damage to UN vehicles caused by Turkish Cypriots." Additionally, they conveyed their hopes for a swift and complete recovery of the injured peacekeepers. The Security Council underscored that "assaults targeting peacekeeping force members are considered violations of international law."

The statement is part of ongoing efforts to address the situation in the region and ensure the safety of peacekeepers on the ground. The Security Council continues to monitor developments closely and emphasizes the importance of adhering to established international resolutions and agreements.

Appeal to the Turkish Cypriot side

The United Nations Security Council has issued a draft statement directed towards the Turkish Cypriot side, urging an immediate cessation of unauthorized construction activities. The draft statement, discussed by Security Council members, underscores unwavering support for the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and its authorized jurisdiction. The document emphasizes the significance of delineating the neutral zone and calls for the removal of all unsanctioned military and civilian actions along the ceasefire line.

The draft also reaffirms the commitment of Security Council members to a lasting, comprehensive, and equitable resolution in alignment with the aspirations of the Cypriot people. This resolution is based on the principles of a bicommunal, bizonal federation ensuring political equality, as stipulated by pertinent Security Council resolutions. Additionally, Security Council members encourage both sides involved to take tangible measures that align with the objectives of the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Representative. These efforts aim to foster a conducive environment for progress. The draft statement concludes by affirming that the issue will remain under continued scrutiny.

Preceding the release of the statement, Colin Stewart, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative and Head of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, briefed the Security Council via video call. The briefing covered the recent incidents in the buffer zone of Pyla, as well as the activities proposed by the occupying regime in the region. Stewart also discussed his interactions and communications on this matter. Earlier on Monday, Stewart engaged in discussions in the occupied territories with "Foreign Minister" Tahsin Ertugrologlu, further addressing the issue at hand.

Agreement from Moscow

In a significant shift, Russia, a member of the United Nations Security Council, has joined other council members in condemning the recent violence within the UN-designated buffer zone in Cyprus. Moscow's initial reluctance was apparent as it posed hurdles to the endorsement of a statement crafted by Britain. However, on Monday afternoon, Maria Zakharova, the official spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Ministry, stated, "We have consistently opposed any use of force against UN representatives, be they military, police, or civilian personnel." Zakharova clarified that the buffer zone incident in Cyprus "is not an exception."

Questions arose regarding Russia's delay in denouncing the attack on peacekeepers in the buffer zone. Zakharova addressed this by explaining, "When addressing critical matters, such as the sensitive Cyprus settlement issue, we see no value in indulging in comparisons of timing. This is neither a race nor a competition."

Meanwhile, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan weighed in on the matter, stating, "We will not tolerate lawlessness in the buffer zone." Erdogan's remarks came during a press briefing on Monday evening following a Cabinet meeting. He criticized the UN Peacekeeping Force for its "physical intervention" within the sovereign territory of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Erdogan asserted that such actions, taken against Turkish Cypriots in Pyla, were neither legally nor ethically justifiable.

Erdogan argued that the UN Peacekeeping Force's involvement, along with its subsequent statements, has compromised its impartiality and further eroded its credibility. He expressed concerns that these actions have contributed to escalating tensions in the region, stating, "We categorically denounce this intervention. As a guarantor country, we will not tolerate violations of law on the island, particularly within the buffer zone."

On the occupied side

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, on the occupied side, maintained a defiant stance. He informed the Anadolu Agency that despite objections, the road construction would proceed as planned. Tatar accused the UN Peacekeeping Force of bowing to pressure from the Greek Cypriot side, alleging an attempt to displace Turkish Cypriots from Pyla. Tatar further contended that the UN had strategically delayed the project through diplomacy over the past 25 years, characterizing it as a ploy to make Turkish Cypriots "forget about it." He underscored the importance of not allowing any claims on land within the Green Line, expressing optimism for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis. 

Cyprus  |  Turkey  |  Pyla

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