United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus

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United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus
Emblem of the United Nations.svg
GreenLine BufferZone Large.JPG
The Buffer Zone in Nicosia
Formation1974
Type Demilitarized zone
Parent organization
United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus

The United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus is a demilitarized zone, patrolled by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), that was established in 1964 and extended in 1974 after the ceasefire of 16 August 1974, following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, and the de facto partition of the island into the area controlled by the Republic of Cyprus (excluding the Sovereign Base Areas) and the unofficial Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in the North. The zone, also known as the Green Line (Greek : Πράσινη Γραμμή, Prasini Grammi; Turkish : Yeşil Hat), stretches for 180 kilometres (112 miles) from Paralimni in the east to Kato Pyrgos in the west, where a separate section surrounds Kokkina.

Contents

The dividing line is also referred to as the Attila Line, [1] named after the Turkish code-name for the 1974 military intervention: Operation Atilla. The Turkish army has built a barrier on the zone's northern side, consisting mainly of barbed-wire fencing, concrete wall segments, watchtowers, anti-tank ditches, and minefields. The zone cuts through the centre of Nicosia, separating the city into southern and northern sections. In total, it spans an area of 346 square kilometres (134 sq mi), varying in width from less than 20 metres (66 ft) to more than 7 kilometres (4.3 mi). [2] [3] [4] Because of this, 31 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Nicosia remains the last divided capital in Europe. [5] [6] [7] [8] Some 10,000 people live in several villages and work on farms located within the zone; the village of Pyla is famous for being one of the few remaining villages in Cyprus where Greek and Turkish Cypriots still live side by side. Other villages are Deneia, Athienou and Troulloi. Some areas are untouched by human interference and have remained a safe haven for flora and fauna. [3]

History

View from the Turkish side to the Greek Cypriot side at Uray sk, next to the Turkish Public Market Green Line near Paphos Gate.JPG
View from the Turkish side to the Greek Cypriot side at Uray sk, next to the Turkish Public Market

A buffer zone in Cyprus was first established in the last days of 1963, when Major-General Peter Young was the commander of the British Joint Force (later known as the Truce Force and a predecessor of the present UN force). This Force was set up in the wake of the inter-communal violence of Christmas 1963. On the 30th December 1963, following a ‘high powered’ twelve hour meeting chaired by Duncan Sandys (British Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations), General Young drew the agreed cease-fire line on a map with a green chinagraph pencil, which was to become known as the "Green Line". [9] This map was then passed to General Young's Intelligence Officer who was waiting in a nearby building and told to, “Get on with it.” Intelligence Corps NCOs then copied the map for distribution to the Truce Force units. Further copies of the map would then have been produced ‘in house’ for use by Truce Force patrols. [10]

The Green Line became impassable following the July 1974 Turkish occupation of Cyprus during which Turkey occupied approximately 37% of Cypriot territory, in response to a short-lived Greek Cypriot coup. A "security zone" was established after the Tripartite Conference of Geneva in July 1974. Pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 353 of 1974, [11] the foreign ministers of Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom convened in Geneva on 25 July 1974. According to UNFICYP, the text of the joint declaration transmitted to the Secretary-General of the United Nations was as follows:

A security zone of a size to be determined by representatives of Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, in consultation with UNFICYP, was to be established at the limit of the areas occupied by the Turkish armed forces. This zone was to be entered by no forces other than those of UNFICYP, which was to supervise the prohibition of entry. Pending the determination of the size and character of the security zone, the existing area between the two forces was not to be breached by any forces.

Tripartite Conference & Geneva Declaration, [12]

The UN Security Council then adopted the above declaration with Resolution 355. When the coup dissolved, the Turkish Armed Forces advanced to capture approximately 37% of the island and met the "Green Line". The meandering Buffer Zone marks the southernmost points that the Turkish troops occupied during the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus in August 1974, running between the ceasefire lines of the Cypriot National Guard and Turkish army that de facto divides Cyprus into two, cutting through the capital of Nicosia. With the self-proclamation of the internationally unrecognized "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus", the Buffer Zone became its de facto southern border.[ citation needed ]

Traffic across the buffer zone was very limited until 2003, when the number of crossings and the rules governing them were relaxed.[ citation needed ]

Sectors

The UN buffer zone is shown in light blue on the map. Cyprus districts named.png
The UN buffer zone is shown in light blue on the map.

Sector One

Starts at Kokkina exclave and covers approximately 90 kilometres (55 mi) to Mammari, west of Nicosia. Since 16 October 1993, it has been the responsibility of the Argentinian Contingent with approximately 212 soldiers. Sector One Headquarters and Command Company are located in San Martin Camp, which is near Skouriotissa village. Support Company finds its home at Roca Camp, near Xeros in the north. The two line companies are deployed along four permanently manned patrol bases while also conducting mobile patrols from the San Martin and Roca camps. [13]

Sector Two

Starts at Mammari, west of Nicosia and covers 30 kilometres (20 mi) to Kaimakli, east of Nicosia. Since 1993, it has been the responsibility of the British contingent, which deploys using the name Operation TOSCA. [14]

Sector Three

Sector 3 was patrolled by Canadian troops until their departure in 1993. It was then absorbed into Sectors 2 and 4. [15]

Sector Four

Starting at Kaimakli, east of Nicosia and covers 65 kilometres (40 mi) to the village of Dherinia, on the east coast of Cyprus and has been the responsibility of the Slovakian contingent, with 202 soldiers. [16]

Crossings

Ledra Street, once cut by the Green Line in Nicosia Chypre-LigneVerte1.JPG
Ledra Street, once cut by the Green Line in Nicosia

After a nearly 30-year ban on crossings, the Turkish Cypriot administration significantly eased travel restrictions across the dividing line in April 2003, allowing Greek Cypriots to cross at the Ledra Palace Crossing just outside the walls of old Nicosia. This was only made possible after the decision of the ECHR (Djavit An vs Turkey, Application No.20652/92). [17]

These are the crossings now available:

Cyprus area under the control of the Republic of CyprusCyprus area under the control of Northern CyprusNotes
Astromeritis (Αστρομερίτης) Zodeia (Ζώδεια, Bostancı)By car only
Ayios Dhometios (Άγιος Δομέτιος) Metehan By foot and car
Ledra PalaceLedra PalaceBy foot only
Ledra Street (οδός Λήδρας, Lokmacı Caddesi) Ledra Street (οδός Λήδρας, Lokmacı Caddesi)By foot only
Pyla
(Πύλα, Pile)
Pergamos (Πέργαμoς, Beyarmudu)
Agios Nikolaos (Άγιος Νικόλαος) Strovilia (Akyar)Crossing point controls carried out by SBA police on the one side, and by the police of the de facto Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on the other side
Limnitis (Λιμνίτης, Yeşilırmak) Limnitis (Λιμνίτης, Yeşilırmak)

Before Cypriot accession to the European Union, there were restrictions on Green Line crossings by foreigners imposed by the Republic of Cyprus, but these were abolished for EU citizens by EU regulation 866/2004. [18] Generally, citizens of any country are permitted to cross the line, including Greek and Turkish Cypriots. A 2005 EU report stated that "a systematic illegal route through the northern part to the government-controlled areas exists" allowing an influx of asylum seekers. [19]

Incidents

Tassos Isaac being killed Tasos Isaak murdered.jpg
Tassos Isaac being killed

On 11 August 1996, Greek Cypriot nationalists demonstrated with a march against the Turkish occupation of Cyprus. The demonstrators' demand was the complete withdrawal of Turkish troops and the return of Cypriot refugees to their homes and properties. Among the demonstrators was Cypriot refugee Tassos Isaac, who was beaten to death by the Turkish far-right group Grey Wolves. [20]

Another man, Solomos Solomou (Tassos Isaac's cousin), was shot to death by a Northern Cyprus minister during the same protests on 14 August 1996. [21] Aged 26, Solomou was one of many mourners who entered the Buffer Zone three days after Isaac's funeral, on 14 August to lay a wreath on the spot where he had been beaten to death. Solomou was fired upon by Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources of Northern Cyprus Kenan Akin when he was climbing to a flagpole to remove the flag of Turkey. [22] An investigation by authorities of the Republic of Cyprus followed, and the suspects were named as Kenan Akin and Erdal Haciali Emanet (Turkey-born Chief of Special Forces of Northern Cyprus). International legal proceedings were instigated and arrest warrants for both were issued via Interpol. [23] During the demonstrations on 14 August 1996, two British soldiers were also shot by the Turkish forces: Neil Emery and Jeffrey Hudson, both from 39th Regiment Royal Artillery. Bombardier Emery was shot in his arm, whilst Gunner Hudson was shot in the leg by a high velocity rifle round and was airlifted to hospital in Nicosia then on to RAF Akrotiri.

On 9 March 2020, UNFICYP soldiers and police prevented further violation by Turkish Cypriot Security Forces by pushing them away from the Republic of Cyprus border (an internationally recognised country) and maintained the integrity of the Buffer Zone. This came after authorities in the unrecognised North of Cyprus had built an illegal structure in the previous year, from the so called TRNC customs post into the United Nations Buffer Zone. [24] [25]

Activism

The buffer zone between the checkpoints that divide Ledra Street was used as a space for activism from 15 October 2011 up until June 2012 by the Occupy Buffer Zone movement. [26]

See also

Related Research Articles

United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus United Nations peacekeeping force

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Kokkina Place in Nicosia District, Cyprus

Kokkina is a coastal exclave (pene-exclave) of the de facto Northern Cyprus, and a former Turkish Cypriot village and enclave in Cyprus. It is surrounded by mountainous territory, with the Morphou Bay on its northern flank. Kokkina sits several kilometres west of the Northern Cyprus mainland and is a place with symbolic significance to Turkish Cypriots, because of the events of August 1964. In 1976, all Kokkina inhabitants were transferred to Gialousa and the exclave has since functioned as a North Cyprus Defence Force military camp.

Ledra Palace Hotel Former Hotel

The Ledra Palace Hotel is located in central Nicosia, Cyprus, and until 1974 was one of the largest and most glamorous hotels of the capital. The hotel was designed by the German Jewish architect Benjamin Günsberg and was built between 1947-1949 by Cyprus Hotels Limited at a cost of approx £240,000 Cyprus pounds on what was then called King Edward VII Street, since 1962 Markos Drakos Avenue. The hotel opened on 8 October 1949 in the presence of British Governor Sir Andrew Wright and Vice Mayor of Nicosia George Poulios. It originally had 94 bedrooms and 150 beds, officially rated as de luxe. All rooms had hot and cold water, central heating and a telephone. Facilities included a conference, reading, bridge and ballroom with orchestra. There were two restaurants, two bars and café. Located within the garden was a swimming pool, paddling pool, children's playground and tennis courts. The hotel had two additional floors added in 1967-1968, thus raising its capacity to 200 rooms and 320 beds.

Death of Tassos Isaac Cypriot activist

Anastasios "Tassos" Isaac, was a Greek Cypriot refugee who participated in a civilian demonstration against the Republic of Turkey's military occupation of the northern part of the Republic of Cyprus. The demonstrators' demand was for the complete withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island, and the return of Cypriot refugees to their homes. Isaac was beaten to death by a mob of Turkish far-right ultranationalists of the Grey Wolves in the United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1758 United Nations Security Council resolution

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Strovilia Place in Gazimağusa District, Northern Cyprus

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Ledra Street shopping thoroughfare in Nicosia, Cyprus

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United Nations Security Council Resolution 1032 United Nations Security Council resolution

United Nations Security Council resolution 1032, adopted unanimously on 19 December 1995, after recalling all resolutions on Cyprus, particularly resolutions 186 (1964) and 1000 (1995), the Council expressed concern at the lack of progress in the political dispute in Cyprus and extended the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) until 30 June 1996.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1092 United Nations Security Council resolution

United Nations Security Council resolution 1092, adopted unanimously on 23 December 1996, after recalling all resolutions on Cyprus, particularly resolutions 186 (1964), 939 (1994) and 1062 (1996), the Council expressed concern at the deterioration of the political dispute in Cyprus and extended the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) until 30 June 1997.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1930 United Nations Security Council resolution

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1930, adopted on June 15, 2010, after reaffirming all resolutions on the situation in Cyprus, particularly Resolution 1251 (1999), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for a further six months until December 15, 2010 while negotiations towards a settlement of the dispute on the island were underway.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1953 United Nations Security Council resolution

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1953, adopted on December 14, 2010, after reaffirming all resolutions on the situation in Cyprus, particularly Resolution 1251 (1999), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for a further six months until June 15, 2011, calling for Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders to develop a plan for overcoming differences before the Secretary-General visit in January 2011.

United Nations Security Council resolution 1604, adopted unanimously on 15 June 2005, after reaffirming all resolutions on the situation in Cyprus, particularly Resolution 1251 (1999), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for an additional period until 15 December 2005.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1642, adopted unanimously on 14 December 2005, after reaffirming all resolutions on the situation in Cyprus, particularly Resolution 1251 (1999), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for an additional period until 15 June 2006.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1986, adopted unanimously on June 13, 2011, after reaffirming all resolutions on the situation in Cyprus, particularly resolutions 1251 (1999) and 1953 (2010), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for a further six months until December 15, 2011, calling for an intensification of negotiations between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1687 United Nations Security Council resolution

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1687, adopted unanimously on June 15, 2006, after reaffirming all resolutions on the situation in Cyprus, particularly Resolution 1251 (1999), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for six months until December 15, 2006.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1728 United Nations Security Council resolution

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1728, adopted unanimously on December 15, 2006, after reaffirming all resolutions on the situation in Cyprus, particularly Resolution 1251 (1999), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for six months until June 15, 2007.

Occupy Buffer Zone protest movement

Occupy Buffer Zone (OBZ) was a protest movement that began on October 15, 2011 by Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot activists, in the Ledra/Lokmacı checkpoint, in Nicosia, Cyprus. The movement began with a weekly occupation of the checkpoint, which is located in the buffer zone that divides the island's territory and capital into the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Republic of Cyprus since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. On November 19 of 2011 the occupation of the buffer zone became permanent.

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Nicosia, Cyprus.

Arab Ahmet, Nicosia Place in Nicosia District Municipality, Cyprus

Arab Ahmet is a Neighbourhood, Quarter, Mahalla or Parish of Nicosia, Cyprus and the mosque situated therein. Both the Quarter and the mosque are named after Arab Ahmet Pasha, one of the Turkish commanders in the Ottoman conquest of Nicosia. It is spelled Arabahmet in Turkish and Άραπ Άχμετ in Greek.

Operation SNOWGOOSE Canadian involvement in the UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus

Operation Snowgoose is the Canadian involvement in the UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP). This operation was established in 1964 alongside the UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus with the goal of reducing tensions between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot populations on the island. Canada's participation with UNFICYP was named "Snowgoose" in 1974, and has one of the longest durations of any Canadian peacekeeping operation. Over 33,000 Canadians have served since the beginning of this mission, but currently only one Canadian participates in the operation per year.

References

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  3. 1 2 "About the Buffer Zone". unficyp.unmissions.org. United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  4. Konyalian, Claudia. "Biodiversity in Cyprus 346 square kilometres Buffer Zone". undp.org. United Nations Development Programme. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
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  6. Associated Press: 30 years after the Berlin Wall, Cyprus’ division endures
  7. Associated Press: 30 years after the Berlin Wall, Cyprus’ division endures
  8. Independent.co.uk: Europe’s other wall: How militarised barrier continues to divide Cyprus, 30 years after Berlin’s came down
  9. Jon Calame and Esther Charlesworth, Divided Cities: Belfast, Beirut, Jerusalem, Mostar, and Nicosia (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011) p133
  10. Interview with Brigadier Michael Perrett-Young (General Young’s Intelligence Officer) and Captain Christopher Meynell (General Young’s ADC)
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  15. https://www.scribd.com/document/288473455/BB-Jan-Feb-2013
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  19. Euirpoean Commission (14 July 2005). "2. Crossing of Persons" (PDF). Report on the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) 866/2004 of 29 April 2004 and the situation resulting from its application. COM. (2005) 320 final. Brussels. p. 3.
  20. Amnesty International Report 1997 - Cyprus. Amnesty International Publications. 1997. Retrieved 16 January 2013. In August, Tasos Isaak, a Greek Cypriot, was beaten to death in the UN buffer zone by Turkish Cypriots or alleged members of the Turkish organization Grey Wolves. Video footage showed a Turkish Cypriot police officer watching Tasos Isaac being beaten without intervening. Violence erupted when Greek Cypriots protesting against the division of Cyprus tried to force their way through the buffer zone. Tasos Isaak was beaten unconscious with clubs and stones after becoming trapped in barbed-wire barricades. He died soon afterwards from severe head injuries.
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  22. Kessel, Jerrold (15 August 1996). "Cyprus conflict comes to a boil, U.N., U.S. fault Turkey for Greek Cypriot deaths". CNN. Archived from the original on 27 March 2007.
  23. Christou, Jean (11 November 1997). "Denktash 'minister' on Interpol list over Solomou killing". Cyprus Mail . Retrieved 4 July 2012.
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  25. "TRNC Police and UN Soldiers encountered at Ledra Palace border gate".
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