Tensions remain high in bi-communal Cyprus village of Pyla

Tensions remain high in bi-communal Cyprus village of Pyla
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UN, Turkish, and Greek Cypriot sides debate disputed road project.

by Nikolaos Stelgias

Tense standoffs continue in the divided village of Pyla (Pile in Turkish) along the UN-patrolled Green Line in Cyprus, as Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides diplomatically confront each other over a controversial road project.

On the northern edge of the last bi-communal settlement on the island, UN peacekeeping troops remain on alert opposite Turkish Cypriot road crews slowly working to extend a roadway from Pyla to the internationally non-recognized TRNC village of Arsos (Yiğitler in Turkish).

Diplomatic contacts are ongoing as TRNC President Ersin Tatar asserts the construction will continue despite Greek Cypriot objections.

Speaking to the Anadolu Agency, Tatar accused the UN of stalling the project for 25 years under Greek Cypriot influence, claiming their true aim was to force Turkish Cypriots out of Pile.

"The Greek Cypriots aim to make Pile a completely Greek village," Tatar stated.

"We have struggled diplomatically for 25 years to construct this road. The UN has stalled us."

The UN rejects the current road path, saying it illegally passes through parts of the buffer zone not under TRNC control. But Turkish Cypriot leaders maintain it is the only workable route to improve access for Pile's Turkish residents.

Incidents between UN forces and TRNC police last week heightened tensions. The Security Council and leaders in Ankara are monitoring the situation closely amid fears of further escalation.

UN envoy Colin Stewart met on Monday with TRNC Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertugruloglu, who reiterated the construction would move forward.

Meanwhile, Pyla residents are split, with some Turkish Cypriots supporting the road and others seeking a diplomatic solution.

Speaking to Cyprus News Agency, Pyla's Greek Cypriot Mukhtar Simos Mytides said recent events have frayed relations between the two communities. Locals anxiously follow each development affecting their bi-communal village.

With both sides entrenched, compromise remains elusive on an infrastructure project inflaming old wounds. Turkish Cypriot desires for improved access clash with UN oversight and Greek Cypriot control in the delicate buffer zone geography.

All parties affirm hopes of a peaceful resolution. But unless common ground is found soon, the divided village of Pile risks becoming an unwanted new flash point on the island.