Athens ire over buffer zone row

Greece joined Cyprus yesterday in criticizing the construction of an elevated walkway by Turkish troops in part of the buffer zone dividing Nicosia, as Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos voiced fears that Turkish Cypriots were intent on encroaching beyond the Green Line. «The Cyprus problem is, and remains, an issue essentially about a foreign invasion and illegal occupation of an independent country’s land,» Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said yesterday. «In this context, any attempt to change the status quo… is counterproductive and condemnable.» The Cypriot government backtracked last week from an informal deal with the Turkish Cypriots to reunify Ledras Street, Nicosia’s main shopping street, after some 40 years of division, saying that Turkish troops had taken advantage of the accord to violate the UN-monitored buffer zone between the two communities. Papadopoulos said yesterday he would not allow this incident to set a precedent, fearing a Turk-Cypriot plan to take over half of the buffer zone across the country.