UN Soldiers Attacked in Pile Buffer Zone

Confrontation between UN and Turkish Cypriots - Pile

Friday, 18 August 2023

Roadworks in Pile, deemed illegal by the UN, have led to an attack on UN personnel, Yendiuzen reports.

The roadwork initiated by the Turkish Cypriot side has been criticised by the UN Peacekeeping Mission. 

UN soldiers, who went to the area to stop the roadworks, which were encroaching on the buffer zone, were assaulted by a group of men in civilian dress, and UN vehicles were towed away with tractors. 

The UN issued a statement condemning the attack. In the written statement made by UN Peacekeeping Spokesperson Aleem Siddique, it was reported that UN personnel and vehicles were damaged and this situation was condemned.

For some time now, the Turkish Cyprus side has been expanding the Pile – Yigitler road, and these works spread into the UN buffer zone. The UN statement said that , “threats to the security of UN peacekeepers and damage to UN property are unacceptable and constitute a serious crime under international law“.

The UN called on the Turkish Cypriot side to “respect its authority in the UN buffer zone, to refrain from any action that could further escalate tensions, and to immediately withdraw all personnel and business vehicles from the UN buffer zone“.  

According to Greek Cypriot daily ‘Cyprus Mail’, a member of the UN Peacekeeping Force was punched in the face when trying to halt the roadworks.

In the report, it was stated that a total of 12 UN peacekeepers were exposed to violence. It also was claimed that those who attacked UN personnel were “Turkish army and police in civilian clothes”. The report said that UN vehicles, which blocked the road to stop the roadwork, were hauled off the road with tractors. 

Road Widening Project in Pile Announced

The Turkish Cypriot side announced that a project had begun to “widen” the road between Pile and Yigitler, and that the aim was to “provide passage to Pile village without the need for entering British Sovereign Base Areas“. However, the United Nations announced that the road in question passes through the “buffer zone”, that it is an unauthorised construction, and that the works were being followed closely “with concern“.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Responds

In a written statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasised that the Greek Cypriots living in Pile (Pyla) could freely travel to and from the south without any controls and were not subjected to any restrictive practices by the British Sovereign Base Areas authorities.

In the ministry statement, which noted that the talks with the UN Peacekeeping Force regarding the said road were inconclusive, it was stated that a “constructive attitude” was expected from the UN.

Additionally, it was stated that the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hakan Fidan, had a telephone conversation with the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna, and was informed about the Pile-Yiğitler Yolu project. 

According to the information given by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was stated that the conversation was held at the request of the French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.

Yeniduzen

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