Turks Advance on Strovilia

President Clerides - Greek PM - Turkish status quo violation

Athens, July 3 2000 (CNA) -- The violation of the United Nations Peace Keeping Forces status quo in Cyprus by the Turkish Cypriot side shows contempt against all relevant agreements and decisions by the UN, President Glafcos Clerides and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis said today.

Speaking after a meeting with President Clerides in Athens, Simitis said the construction of an illegal Turkish military check point in Strovilia in the south eastern part of Cyprus, which violates the status quo in the area with a view to restrict movement of UNFICYP soldiers, "reiterates the intransigence of the Turkish side".

National Guard, UNFICYP will discuss construction of illegal Turkish military checkpoint

NICOSIA, 04/07/2000 (CNA/ANA)

The military chiefs of the Cyprus Republic's armed forces, the National Guard, and the UN peace-keeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) will probably meet in the next 48 hours to discuss the construction of an illegal Turkish military check point, in the south east, which has violated the current status quo, in place since

Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern areas in 1974.

At the same time, the UN, responsible for maintaining the status quo, are trying to arrange a meeting with the Commander of the Turkish forces in occupied Cyprus as soon as possible and they are having contacts at all levels on the issue.

Well informed sources have told CNA that after the meeting, the problem, which occurred near Strovilia village, bordering one of the two British military bases on the island, will be raised again with the Turkish occupation forces.

The same sources said that this problem should not affect the UN-sponsored talks, which begin on Wednesday in Geneva, and pointed to the need to bring the situation on the island to its previous status.

Last Friday, the Turkish military constructed a new check point, in Strovilia on the south eastern part of Cyprus, violating the status quo in the area with a view to restrict the movement of UNFICYP soldiers.

A UN soldier, serving in the post near Strovilia village inhabited by Greek Cypriots, was replaced Sunday by one of his colleagues, after being stuck there for a couple of days.

"We are continuing to work to get the check point removed, we protested about it on Friday and we are in contact with the military," Sarah Russell, spokesperson of UNFICYP told CNA on Monday.

The issue, she added, was raised "with all relevant people" and the UN request, filed on Friday, to the occupation regime "was registered" but there was no real indication as to when a reply would be forthcoming.

Replying to questions, she said no deadline was given on the removal of the checkpoint but "we indicated we regard this as a serious violation and we want it moved as soon as possible."

She said more talks would take place again on Monday and UN military are also meeting to discuss the situation.

A spokesman for the British Bases, Britain has retained since Cyprus independence in 1960, told CNA that "from the Bases point of view the Turkish move has not affected the way we conduct our business" but acknowledged that there has been a change in the status quo because "they moved the check point."

Asked if the authorities of the Bases protested, the spokesman Robert Need said that was "obviously done at a low level", adding that the Bases would not protest over something that they have no control since what happened was not in their area.

He said the Turks assured the Bases that there would be no infringement of people going through in the area, except the UN.

"The Turkish check point is now right on the edge of the sovereign base area (SBA)," Need said.

Replying to questions, he said before Friday the Turkish military was some 300-400 meters further back, than the positions they currently hold.

He also said the SBA has a police point in the vicinity to advice people that things have changed and warn them not to be alarmed.

U.N. general demands removal of Turkish Cypriot post

NICOSIA, July 11 2000 (Reuters) - The commander of U.N. peacekeepers on the divided island of Cyprus demanded on Tuesday that Turkish troops remove a checkpoint close to a Greek Cypriot hamlet.

Major-General Victory Rana visited the newly-established position between Strovilia village and the British base of Dhekelia in the island's southeast on Tuesday morning.

"I demanded again...the removal of the new checkpoint," Rana told state television CyBC in an interview.

Strovilia hit local headlines nearly two weeks ago when Turkish troops moved their position forward 300-400 metres, leapfrogging the village from the north side to the south, and to within shouting distance of the British base area.

The hamlet and checkpoint lie close to the buffer zone dividing the island.

The Turks moved the post days before the resumption of UN-sponsored proximity talks in Geneva between Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and President Glafcos Clerides and was part of a series of restrictive measures against the U.N. force.

Denktash was apparently peeved with the U.N. Security Council for rewording the 1,200-strong force's renewal mandate without taking into account the Turkish side's views last month.

Rana was allowed to enter the village of about nine inhabitants. He spoke to a Turkish army captain and demanded the checkpoint's removal.

"The inhabitants were free to come and go as they wished, but they had complained about the new checkpoint and...about the presence of the additional military personnel," Rana said.

The United Nations force regards the move forward as a violation of the status quo along the island's buffer zone and has issued several protests to the Turkish Cypriot side.

"Our mandate is to maintain the status quo in the buffer zone. Strovilia is a special case," said Unficyp spokeswoman Sarah Russell . "We are a peacekeeping organisation and we use peaceful means to achieve that. It is very, very important for us to have tension as low as possible in Cyprus in order to allow the political negotiations to go ahead."

Turkish Measures against UNPICYP