UN in Cyprus says reaches ‘understanding’ on road dispute

NICOSIA (Reuters) – The United Nations has reached an “understanding” to defuse a standoff in ethnically split Cyprus which triggered scuffles involving peacekeepers in August, its mission said on Monday.

Turkish Cypriot attempts to construct a road traversing United Nations-controlled territory in the south-east of the island had been a source of dispute.

“An understanding has been reached on arrangements that will resolve the ongoing situation on the Pyla/Pile plateau,” the Cyprus U.N. mission, known as Unficyp, said in a statement, referring to a community where both Greek and Turkish Cypriots live and which is under U.N. jurisdiction.

Turkish Cypriot authorities want to build a road leading directly from the area they control to the village, seeking to allow Turkish Cypriots to circumvent a patchwork of jurisdictions, including sovereign British bases.

Cyprus was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 following a brief Greece-inspired coup. A U.N. buffer zone separating opposing Greek and Turkish Cypriots is about 180 km (112 miles)long east to west.

The U.N. mission said a few modalities were still being discussed but that the framework understanding would come into effect on Monday.

People close to the matter said the compromise in return for the road involved a swathe of the area being designated for civilian use and opened as a residential area for Greek and Turkish Cypriots — hitherto restricted under buffer zone rules — and a checkpoint manned by the U.N. in the vicinity.

Turkish Cypriot authorities had said the road was essential to improve transportation for people living in the community.

At present, people from the area wanting to travel to north Cyprus have to cross a checkpoint in the British bases, then another checkpoint controlled by Turkish Cypriot authorities.

(Reporting By Michele Kambas; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)