Attack on UN Personnel Widely Condemned: UPDATED

Turkish Cypriot police versus UN soldiers - Pile
[Turkish Cypriot police confront UN soldiers – Pile]
Saturday, 19 August 2023

A diplomatic spat has broken out since UN security personnel were attacked in the UN buffer zone, reportedly by the military in plain clothes, Kibris Postasi reports.

Citing Greek Cypriot daily Phileleftheros, Kibrisi Postasi writes that the Greek Cypriot Administration had been advised well in advance that the TRNC would carry out roadworks to widen the road between Pile (which lies in the UN buffer zone) and Yigitler.

According to reports, the Greek Cypriots had used diplomacy to present a number of ideas in order to prevent the work going ahead. This put heavy pressure on the Turkish Cypriot side which decided not to cooperate.

A fight broke out between the UN soldiers and those present at the worksite, some of whom ended up in hospital.

Colin Stewart, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Cyprus and Chief of Mission of the Peacekeeping Force, was in constant contact with both sides and the UN Security Council member states throughout the day.

Confrontation between UN and Turkish Cypriots - Pile

In the news, it was noted that the embassies of the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, the USA, the UK and France in Southern Cyprus issued a joint statement in which they described the TRNC’s activity in the region as “unauthorised” and “condemned” the incidents involving the Peace Corps personnel, expressing “concern“. “We encourage the Turkish Cypriot authorities to immediately stop the construction“, the joint statement added.

Additionally, EU High Commissioner Joseph Borrell, President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola condemned the events in Pile on their social media accounts, expressed concern and called for the Peace Force’s authority in the buffer zone to be respected and called for “work to be started to achieve mutually acceptable progress in the region“. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Foreign Minister Yeorgios Yerapetridis, who called Greek Cypriot President Nicos Christodoulides on the phone, also condemned the event and supported the Greek Administration.

UPDATE:  Despite yesterday’s debacle, the UN withdrew its personnel today and are observing while the roadworks continue, Mustafa Lakadamyalı, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

In a statement to TAK news agency, Lakadamyalı said that the United Nations soldiers with their vehicles had withdrawn to the buffer zone border and that they continued to observe from the buffer zone. No further interventions have been made, he said.

Lakadamyalı said that the Pile-Yiğitler road works continued this morning, but at a slow pace due to the weekend traffic.

Kibris Postasi

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