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Government to proceed with demining along buffer zone
2005-08-08 13:34:31

Nicosia, Aug 8 (CNA)-- Cyprus Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides announced here today that the government would proceed to lift all mines at the length of the UN-controlled buffer zone, with European Union funding and in cooperation with the UN.

The spokesman was critical of Turkey and its military, occupying the northern part of the island since 1974, for their unwillingness to follow suit, in line with their obligations emanating from the Ottawa Convention.

Chrysostomides was also critical of Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat for his apparent ''inability to take any decision without the consent of the Turkish military with regard to the opening of crossing points to and from the occupied areas, at additional locations''.

Responding to questions about an agreement between the United Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and the Turkish occupation forces on demining, he pointed out that the agreement covers the area of the capital Nicosia only.

''We are proceeding unilaterally, with EU funding and in cooperation with the UN, to de-mining the length of the buffer zone. Further than that, we are also destroying anti personnel mines, as prescribed by the Ottawa agreement,'' he said.

He expressed regret that Turkey does not agree to demine and act in a similar manner. This, he added, was an indication that Ankara is not willing to comply with its international obligations, in spite of the government's intention for mutual demining.

The spokesman also referred to the opening of crossing points to facilitate free movement of Cypriots via the demarcation line and said that today Turkish Cypriots, living in the occupied north, travelled through the government controlled areas to Kokkina enclave to attend events to mark Turkish air raids against Cyprus in the early 60s.

He added that a preliminary agreement had been reached to allow Greek Cypriots to cross into the occupied north, in an organised manner, to attend a religious service in early September in Morphou.

The spokesman recalled that the government had always advocated opening additional crossing points to the existing four to facilitate movement of people to and from the occupied areas.

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