Cyprus president scolds UN for comments on crossing closures

Cyprus president scolds UN for comments on crossing closures

Cyprus’ president on Friday told the United Nations peacekeeping mission on the ethnically divided island nation not to meddle in government affairs following a decision to close crossing points amid virus concerns.

President Nicos Anastasiades suggested the UN was out of line in questioning a government decision to temporarily shut four of nine crossing points along a UN-controlled buffer zone.

Anastasiades called a UN statement expressing concern over the “disruption” caused by the closures an “unfortunate intervention.”

“I consider interventions concerning the policies of a sovereign country, the Republic of Cyprus, which is recognized by the United Nations and is a European Union member, to be unfortunate,” Anastasiades said.

The government said it closed the crossing points last week in order to better check for potential coronavirus carriers crossing from the breakaway, Turkish Cypriot north to the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south.

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence.

Officials said additional medical staff have been assigned to the open crossing points to more thoroughly screen for people exhibiting symptoms.

Activists, including the communist-rooted AKEL party, decried the decision as ineffective and suggested it was politically motivated. Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said he sent a letter of complaint to UN Chief Antonio Guterres.

Government officials insisted the closures were done strictly for the sake of public health.

In its statement on Thursday, the UN mission said it’s “imperative” for both sides to “coordinate closely in order to provide a comprehensive response” to any health emergency.

It also said a committee composed of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot medical experts “should be utilized to the fullest.” [AP]

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