Turkey slams 'unacceptable' UN approach to Cyprus row

AFP , Saturday 19 Aug 2023

Turkey's ruling party spokesman on Saturday criticised UN peacekeepers for blocking the construction of a controversial road in the buffer zone dividing Cyprus, calling their attitude "unacceptable" and "extremely wrong".

In this file photo, Members of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) patrol inside the buffer zone that separates the internationally-recognised Republic of Cyprus and the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), recognised only by Ankara, in the divided capital Nicosia, on April 26, 2021. AFP


A confrontation occurred on Friday between Turkish Cypriot forces and UN peacekeepers in Pyla, an ethnically mixed village in the UN-patrolled area between the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus in the south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot statelet in the north.

The UN mission on the east Mediterranean island said its peacekeepers were assaulted as they tried to block "unauthorised construction work" near Pyla, the only village where Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots live side by side.

Omer Celik, spokesman for Turkey's ruling AKP party, defended the construction of the road and slammed the "unacceptable" attitude of the UN peacekeepers.

"The attitude of the UN peacekeeping force serving in Cyprus ... was unacceptable and extremely wrong," Celik wrote on Twitter, now rebranded as X.

He said that attitude "aimed at pleasing the Greek Cypriot side has damaged the reputation" of the UN mission in Cyprus.

The authorities in the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is recognised only by Turkey, had dismissed the UN mission's allegations as "baseless".

They said the project had a "humanitarian objective" that was "aimed at providing ease of access to TRNC territory for our citizens" living in the village.

Celik said on Saturday that Turkey "fully supports" the TRNC, and called on the UN mission to treat the Turkish Cypriots equally.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish forces occupied its northern third in response to a military coup sponsored by the junta then in power in Greece.

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