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United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus

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Title: United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus  
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Subject: Cyprus dispute, Visa requirements for Romanian citizens, Occupy Buffer Zone, Ledra Street, History of Cyprus since 1878
Collection: Separation Barriers, United Nations Operations in Cyprus
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United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus

United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus
United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus
The Buffer Zone in Nicosia.
Formation 1974
Type Demilitarised zone
Parent organization
United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus
The UN buffer zone is shown in light blue on the map
The buffer zone near Nicosia's Paphos Gate.

The United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus is a demilitarised zone, patrolled by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), that was established in 1974 following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, and de facto partitions the island into the area controlled by the Government of Cyprus (which is the de jure government for the entire island save for the British Sovereign Base Areas) in the South and that under the administration of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in the North. The zone runs for more than 180.5 kilometres (112.2 mi) along what is colloquially known as the Green Line and varying between less than 20 metres and more than 7 kilometres wide has an area of 346 square kilometres (134 sq mi).[1][2]

The zone stretches for 180 kilometres (112 miles) from the western part of near Kato Pyrgos to the east just south of Famagusta. It cuts through the centre of the old town of Nicosia, separating the city into southern and northern sections. There is also a buffer zone around the Kokkina exclave in western Cyprus. The width of the zone ranges from few metres or feet in central Nicosia, to 6.1 kilometres (3.8 mi) at the village of Athienou. There is no buffer zone along the common border between the eastern British Sovereign Base Area and the area under Greek Cypriot or Turkish Cypriot control.

Some 10,000 people live in several villages and work on farms located within the zone;[3] the village of Pyla is famous for being the only village on Cyprus where Greeks and Turks live side by side. Other villages are Deneia, Athienou and Troulloi, while Lympia and Mammari lie partially within the zone.

Turkish forces built a barrier on the zone's northern side, consisting mainly of barbed-wire fencing, concrete wall segments, watchtowers, anti-tank ditches, and minefields. This line is also referred to as the Attila Line,[4] named after the Turkish code-name for the 1974 military intervention: Operation Atilla. The closed off zone has become a haven for Cyprus' wildlife, an example of an involuntary park.


  • History 1
  • Sectors 2
    • Sector One 2.1
    • Sector Two 2.2
    • Sector Four 2.3
  • Crossings 3
  • Incidents 4
  • Activism 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


A buffer zone in Cyprus was first established in 1964, when Major-General Peter Young was the commander of the British peace force (a predecessor of the present UN force) set up in the wake of the intercommunal violence of the early 1960s. After stationing his troops in different areas of Nicosia, the general drew a cease-fire line on a map with a green crayon, which was to become known as the "Green Line".

The Green Line became impassable following the July 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus during which Turkey captured approximately 8% of Cypriot territory in response to a short-lived Greek Cypriot coup. A "security zone" was established after the Tripartite Conference of Geneva in July 1974. Pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 353 (1974),[5] the foreign ministers of Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom convened in Geneva, Switzerland, on 25 July 1974. According to UNFICYP, the text of the joint declaration transmitted to the Secretary-General of the United Nations was as follows:

A security zone of a size to be determined by representatives of Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, in consultation with UNFICYP, was to be established at the limit of the areas occupied by the Turkish armed forces. This zone was to be entered by no forces other than those of UNFICYP, which was to supervise the prohibition of entry. Pending the determination of the size and character of the security zone, the existing area between the two forces was not to be breached by any forces.
— Tripartite Conference & Geneva Declaration, [6]

The UN Security Council then adopted the above declaration with Resolution 355. When the coup dissolved, the Turkish Armed Forces advanced to capture approximately 37% of the island and met the "Green Line". The meandering Buffer Zone marks the southernmost points that the Turkish troops occupied during the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus in August 1974, running between the cease fire lines of the Cypriot National Guard and Turkish army that de facto divides Cyprus into two, cutting through the capital of Nicosia. With the self-proclamation of the internationally unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the Buffer Zone became its de facto southern border.

Traffic across the buffer zone was very limited until 2003, when the number of crossings and the rules governing them were relaxed.


Sector One

Starts at Kokkina exclave and covers approximately 90 kilometres to Mammari, west of Nicosia. Since 16 October 1993, it has been the responsibility of the Argentinian Contingent with 212 soldiers. Sector One Headquarters and Command Company are located in San Martin Camp, which is near Skouriotissa village. Support Company finds its home at Roca Camp, near Xeros in the north. The two line companies are deployed along four permanently manned patrol bases while also conducting mobile patrols from the San Martin and Roca camps.[7]

Sector Two

Starts at Mammari, west of Nicosia and covers 30 kilometres to Kaimakli, east of Nicosia. Since 1993, has been the responsibility of the British contingent, which deploys using the name Operation TOSCA .[8]

Sector Four

Starting at Kaimakli, east of Nicosia and covers 65 Kilometres to the village of Dhernia, on the east coast of Cyprus and has been the responsibility of the Slovakian and Hungarian contingent with 202 soldiers.[9]


Ledra Street, once cut by the Green Line in Nicosia.

After a nearly 30-year ban on crossings, the Turkish Cypriot administration significantly eased travel restrictions across the dividing line in April 2003, allowing Greek Cypriots to cross at the Ledra Palace Crossing just outside the walls of old Nicosia. This was made only possible after the decision of the ECHR (Djavit An vs Turkey, Application No.20652/92).[10]

These are the crossings now available:

Cyprus area under the effective control of the Republic Cyprus area occupied by Turkish Troops Notes
Astromeritis (Αστρομερίτης) Zodeia (Ζώδεια, Bostancı) By car only
Ayios Dhometios (Άγιος Δομέτιος) Metehan
Ledra Palace Ledra Palace On foot unless one presents a special permit
Ledra Street (οδός Λήδρας, Lokmacı Caddesi) Ledra Street (οδός Λήδρας, Lokmacı Caddesi) On foot only
(Πύλα, Pile)
Pergamos (Πέργαμoς, Beyarmudu)
Agios Nikolaos (Άγιος Νικόλαος) Strovilia (Akyar)
Limnitis (Λιμνίτης, Yeşilırmak) Limnitis (Λιμνίτης, Yeşilırmak)

Before Cypriot accession to the European Union, there were restrictions on Green Line crossings by foreigners imposed by the Republic of Cyprus, but these were abolished for EU citizens by EU regulation 866/2004.[11] Generally, citizens of any country are permitted to cross the line, including Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Passports are required for entry into Northern Cyprus, but they are not generally stamped. A 2005 EU report stated that "a systematic illegal route through the northern part to the government-controlled areas exists" allowing an influx of asylum seekers.[12]


Tassos Isaak being murdered in the buffer zone.

In August 1996, Greek Cypriot refugees demonstrated with a march against what they regard as the Turkish occupation of Cyprus. The demonstrators' demand was the complete withdrawal of Turkish troops and the return of the refugees to their homes and properties. Among them was Tasos Isaak who was beaten to death.[13]

Another man, Interpol.[16]

During the demonstrations on 14 August 1996, two British soldiers were also shot by the Turkish forces: Neil Emery and Jeffrey Hudson, both from 39th Regiment Royal Artillery.

Bdr Emery was shot in his arm, whilst Gnr Hudson was shot in the leg by a high velocity rifle round and was airlifted to hospital in Nicosia then on to R.A.F. Akrotiri.


The buffer zone between the checkpoints that divide Ledra Street was used as a space for activism from 15 October 2011 up until June 2012 by the Occupy Buffer Zone movement.[17]

See also


  1. ^ "United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus". 
  2. ^ "Biodiversity in Cyprus’ 346 square kilometres Buffer Zone". 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Attila LineOxford References:
  5. ^ "UNSC Resolution 353 (1974)" (PDF). United Nations. 20 July 1974. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  6. ^ "Tripartite Conference & Geneva Declaration". United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. Retrieved 19 December 2011. 
  7. ^ "Sector One". UNFICYP. 30 April 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  8. ^ "Sector Two". UNFICYP. 30 April 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  9. ^ "Sector Four". UNFICYP. 30 April 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  10. ^ Necatigil, Zaim (2005). ]The Cyprus Conflict and Turkey in the grip of ECHR: Cases brought against Turkey by the Greek Cypriot Administration and the Greek Cypriots before the European Commission of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights [Kıbrıs uyuşmazlığı ve Avrupa İnsan Hakları Mahkemesi kıskacında Türkiye: Avrupa İnsan Hakları Komisyonu ve Mahkemesi'nde Kıbrıs Rum yönetimi ve Kıbrıslı Rumlar tarafından Türkiye aleyhine getirilen davalar (in Turkish). Ankara: Turhan Kitabevi. p. 190.  
  11. ^ "Consolidated version of the Green Line Regulation including amendments" (PDF) (PDF).  
  12. ^ Euirpoean Commission (14 July 2005). "Report on the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) 866/2004 of 29 April 2004 and the situation resulting from its application" (PDF). COM. (2005) 320 final. Brussels. p. 3. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "1 killed, 11 wounded as Turks shoot at Greek Cypriots armed with stones". Associated Press. 15 August 1996. Retrieved 29 October 2007. 
  15. ^ Kessel, Jerrold (15 August 1996). "Cyprus conflict comes to a boil, U.N., U.S. fault Turkey for Greek Cypriot deaths". CNN. Archived from the original on 27 March 2007. 
  16. ^ Christou, Jean (11 November 1997). "Denktash 'minister' on Interpol list over Solomou killing".  
  17. ^ "Cypriots #OccupyBufferZone". The Stream. AlJazeera. 15 November 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 

External links

  • The Buffer Zone UNFICYP website
  • – The United Nations Buffer Zone Adrian Scarbrough Photography
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