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Turkish Cyprus conveys objections to UN official over road dispute

Turkish Cyprus conveys objections to UN official over road dispute

Baku, August 30, AZERTAC

A senior U.N. official on a three-day visit to the divided island of Cyprus met with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Ersin Tatar amid a controversial road construction project, according to Daily Sabah.

Tatar and Miroslav Jenca, U.N. assistant secretary-general for Europe, Central Asia and the Americas, met in the capital Lefkoşa (Nicosia) for talks, which lasted one and a half hours at the presidential building.

Colin Stewart, the head of the U.N. Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, and Ergün Olgun, the Turkish Cypriot president’s special representative, also attended the meeting.

Jenca’s visit came after U.N. peacekeepers on Aug. 18 intervened in road construction work to link the Turkish Cypriot village of Pile in the buffer zone with the rest of the TRNC.

Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Tatar said he informed Jenca that the “Pile-Yiğitler road construction plan is a humanitarian project and was born out of necessity.”

Tatar told Jenca that U.N. peacekeepers’ move to prevent the construction of a humanitarian road connecting the Pile and Yiğitler villages is “unacceptable.”

For his part, the U.N. official told reporters: “We hope that there will be common ground in the future for the resumption of peace talks that benefit the entire people.”

Jenca, who will be on the island of Cyprus between Aug. 27 and 29, held a separate meeting with the Greek Cypriot administration leader Nikos Christodoulides early on Monday.

Following his meeting with Christodoulides, Jenca assured U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was paying very close attention to the situation and would use all means at his disposal to help reach an agreement to heal the island’s ethnic split.

According to Jenca, he and Christodoulides discussed ways of resuming talks with Turkish Cyprus that have remained stalemated since 2017, when negotiations at a Swiss resort collapsed.

Jenca said Guterres would “use all his good offices to help this process to find a solution to the Cyprus issue.”

Greek Cypriot administration government spokesperson Constantinos Letymbiotis said Jenca conveyed Guterres’ “dedication to efforts for a resumption of negotiations” and that the world body continues to look for ways to get negotiations back on track.

Cyprus’ division returned to the fore earlier this month when a group of U.N. peacekeepers obstructed Turkish Cypriot crews working on a road that would connect Pile, a village inside the U.N.-controlled buffer zone, to Yiğitler (Asos) village in the island’s north.

An altercation between U.N. peacekeepers and Turkish Cypriot crews received international condemnation. It prompted to issue a statement underscoring “the need to avoid any further unilateral or escalatory actions by either party that could raise tensions on the island and harm prospects for a settlement.”

Türkiye has accused the U.N. of bias over the humanitarian road construction and called for “impartiality.”

The road expansion is strategically important for residents as it will give them more options to reach Pile, where Turkish and Greek Cypriots live together.

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