NEWS

Nicosia presses on Strovilia

NICOSIA (AFP) – The Cypriot government yesterday urged the United Nations, Britain and the United States to make Turkish troops occupying the northern part of the island quit an area they took over in 2000. UN chief of mission Zbigniew Wlosowicz, US Ambassador Michael Klosson and his British counterpart Lyn Parker met Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou yesterday as Nicosia turned up the heat on Turkey. «As Britain and the USA assure us they share our views on the issue, they should undertake some initiatives so UN Security Council resolutions reflect reality,» Iacovou said. Turkish troops violated the 1974 ceasefire agreement in June 2000 when they advanced 300 meters to set up a checkpoint at Strovilia, a strip of land no bigger than a soccer field sandwiched between the easternmost fringe of the British military base of Dhekelia and the Turkish-occupied north. Eight Greek Cypriots living in the hamlet, formerly under UN protection, are surrounded by Turkish troops and Iacovou says they are being harassed on a daily basis. Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said he was «unsatisfied» with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s reference to Strovilia in his latest report on Cyprus. Nicosia is lobbying for much stronger language to be used in the next UN Security Council resolution renewing the UN’s peacekeeping mandate on the island for a further six months. «It should say provocations by Turkish forces not only continue but have escalated,» Papadopoulos said. Under the 1974 ceasefire accord, a line was drawn around Strovilia as the Turkish military thought it lay within the British sovereign base. «There is no doubt about the continuing violation and the secretary general has voiced his concerns,» a UN spokesman told AFP.