UN 'pleased' by buffer zone crossings by Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots

UN 'pleased' by buffer zone crossings by Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots

The United Nations today welcomed the crossings in recent weeks by thousands of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots of the buffer zone maintained by the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

According to figures provided by the UN mission, as of 4 May, approximately 170,000 Greek Cypriots had crossed from south to north while 75,000 Turkish Cypriots had done the reverse trip.

"We are very pleased that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots are crossing the buffer zone, and that people are patiently enduring the practical inconveniences which have put a strain on both sides, as well as on the UN mission there," a UN spokesman, Fred Eckhard, said at a press briefing in New York.

Describing the flow of people across the buffer zone as proceeding "without major political problems" or serious incidents, the spokesman said, "nevertheless, with several traffic accidents and arrests related mainly to crossing, the mission has been working around the clock to make the crossing facilities smoother and more efficient."

Yesterday, UNFICYP Chief Zbigniew Wlosowicz met Greek Cypriot leader Tassos Papadopoulos, and is meeting today with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to share information and exchange views on the current situation, Mr. Eckhard added.

"While freedom of movement would be a key element in any settlement, it must be lasting, and in any case all the other core issues remain," he stressed.