On the ethnically divided island of Cypress, U.N. peacekeepers are getting the bird flipped by nearby residents and harvesters who gather and sell locally-grown asparagus.
The cause of the standoff is a banned area called the "buffer zone," a divider between east and west that separates the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus from a third of the island that is calling itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognized only by Turkey.
Who’s guarding the asparagus?
The U.N. controls the buffer zone also known as the "Green Line." This is where the asparagus grows and the U.N. soldiers roam, and the sheep get ready for mutton stew. The U.K also has military bases there.
"This is unacceptable behaviour and I have demanded that action is taken," said Nicos Kotziambashis, leader of the village of Mammari, which has been hit hard by the U.N. ban. "The situation is explosive."
This year, due to ideal weather conditions, a bumper crop of asparagus called "aggrelia" is expected; and the villagers want their Euros.
So here we have a huge peacekeeping operation preventing the little guy from earning a living.
Why don’t they just set up security points for the villagers, so they can go to work in the buffer zone?
Peacekeeping signs can read "No Cameras, Cell Phones, or Other Spy Equipment Allowed; Background Checks, Urine Samples, and Strip Checks Here; Must Eat Asparagus Sample in Front of Guard."
"Reporters Without Borders, forgetaboutit!
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U.N. and Cypress At Odds Over Asparagus
- By: Rose A. ValentaMar 1, 2009