CrisisWatch Cyprus

Deteriorated Situation

Violent skirmishes erupted in buffer zone between Turkish Cypriots and UN personnel, injuring multiple peacekeepers and Turkish Cypriot police officers and sparking diplomatic furore.

Turkish Cypriots and UN peacekeepers clashed, triggering diplomatic spat. Turkish Cypriots 17 Aug began constructing road to connect village of Pile/Pyla, located within UN controlled demilitarised zone known as Green Line, to “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”), citing humanitarian reasons. “TRNC” police and construction crews next day approached Green Line where UN peacekeepers bolstered presence with civilian vehicles to prevent construction; construction workers used excavators and physical force to disperse UN troops, leading to skirmishes that harmed at least three peacekeepers and eight Turkish Cypriot police officers. Incident sparked stern diplomatic responses. Notably, Greek PM Kyriákos Mitsotákis 18 Aug denounced Turkish Cypriot actions as “unacceptable”, while “TRNC” and Türkiye same day condemned UN personnel, claiming peacekeepers wrongfully intervened in humanitarian project. Although Russia next day vetoed UN Security Council resolution introduced by UK against actions of Turkish Cypriots, UN Sec Gen along with several embassies, including UK, U.S., EU and China, condemned “TRNC’s” actions. U.S. senator Robert Menendez 24 Aug visited Republic of Cyprus where he described Turkish Cypriot actions as unacceptable violation of international law.

Prospects for relaunching formal talks remained dim. Before buffer zone incident, Republic of Cyprus defence minister 6 Aug repeated that President Christodoulides is focussed on lifting deadlock and welcomes negotiations under UN auspices with active EU engagement. “TRNC” leader Ersin Tatar 11 Aug rejected Christodoulides’ proposal for joint meeting with UN Assistant Sec Gen Miroslav Jenča, who visited island 27-29 Aug, preferring to hold separate meeting on 28 Aug. Meanwhile, after U.S. 18 Aug announced it would continue to lift for another year arms embargo on Republic of Cyprus – imposed in 1987 and first lifted in 2021 – “TRNC” same day expressed concern over “upsetting the delicate balance on the island”; “TRNC” also described docking of U.S. destroyer USS Ramage at Limassol port on 17 Aug as “worrying”.

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