UN chief condemns assault against UN peacekeepers in Cyprus

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday condemned the assault against United Nations peacekeepers serving in the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) by Turkish Cypriot security personnel.

Guterres said threats to the safety of UN peacekeepers and damage to UN property are "unacceptable and may constitute serious crimes under international law."

Urging the Turkish Cypriot side to respect the authority of the UNFICYP as mandated by the UN Security Council and withdraw all personnel and machinery from the UN buffer zone immediately, he called on the Turkish Cypriot side to constructively re-engage with the UNFICYP to find a mutually agreeable way forward in the Pyla area.

Guterres reiterated his long-standing call on the parties to refrain from taking any unilateral action that may raise tensions and compromise finding a mutually acceptable way forward.

On Friday, the UNFICYP confirmed personnel from the Turkish Cypriot side had attacked UN peacekeepers and damaged UN vehicles.

The incident took place inside the buffer zone near Pyla, or Pile in Turkish, a village near the southeastern coast of Cyprus that is inhabited by both Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

The UNFICYP said peacekeepers were on a mission to "block unauthorized construction work in the area" after the Turkish Cypriot administration announced its plan to construct an 11-kilometer-long road between Pyla and another village in the Turkish-controlled Cypriot area.

The UNFICYP has been in control of the buffer zone since it was demarcated under United Nations Security Council resolutions after a Turkish military operation against Cyprus in 1974.

A Slovak peacekeeper on patrol inside the UN buffer zone in Cyprus. /United Nations
A Slovak peacekeeper on patrol inside the UN buffer zone in Cyprus. /United Nations

A Slovak peacekeeper on patrol inside the UN buffer zone in Cyprus. /United Nations

Egypt on Sunday called for calm in Cyprus after the recent attacks on UN peacekeepers in the east Mediterranean island.

In a statement, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry called for efforts to stop measures that would fuel tensions between the two parts of Cyprus, underlining the importance of respecting the mandate of the UNFICYP and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

The ministry also stressed the need to avoid any actions that would contribute to complicating the situation and changing the status quo along the cease-fire lines and the buffer zone.

It also called for returning to the path of a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

(With input from agencies)

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