Cyprus: Tensions flared up in border village of Strovilia

A potentially serious incident came into public spotlight last week in the Strovilia area of Cyprus. According to local residents’ accounts, barricades were placed into a dirt road near the U.N.-established border. The alleged incursion of the Turkish military within the Strovilia area has taken place in the first ten days of February. Strovilia is the easternmost crossing point to the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

The Green Line crossing in Strovilia incorporates a security checkpoint supervised by the British Sovereign Base of Dhekelia. The U.N. established the Green Line as the interim, post-1974 invasion, borders between Cyprus and TRNC. The recent dispute took place on a parallel dirt road which was used by local residents to circumvent the official security checkpoint by the British base. The road was a connecting point with TRNC. The Turkish authorities decided to barricade the road, thus cutting off access of locals in their residences. The British intervened and assumed control of the barricade.

The British High Commission issued a statement on Friday about the Strovilia incident. The High Commission claimed that the Sovereign Base of Dhekelia temporarily set up a barricade in the dirt road to preclude smuggling activities and unnecessary customs checks. The Commission’s statement concluded with reaffirmation of uninhibited passage rights through the base’s premises for Greek Cypriot residents.

The Cypriot government already notified the U.N. Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) to examine the matter. UNFICYP Spokesperson Aleem Siddique claimed that the peacekeeping force supervises the unforeseen escalation of tensions in the Strovilia area and called both parties to take steps reducing it.

The Strovilia conflict is not a new chapter in Cyprus-Turkish relations. In June 2000 the Turkish army captured a piece of land to set up a Turkish security checkpoint. The Green Line is split into two security checkpoints, one by the British Sovereign Base in the south and one by Turkish forces in the north.

The U.N. Security Council Resolution 2453, issued on 30 January 2019, re-authorised UNIFCYP’s operations until 31 July 2019 and called Turkish forces to disband the security outpost in Strovilia and retreat back to their pre-2000 position. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has framed Turkish movements in Strovilia as permanent violations of the post-1974 Green Line boundaries envisaged by U.S. Security Council Resolutions.

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