NEWS

MEP snatches Turkish flag

A controversial Cypriot member of the European Parliament yesterday added to his resume of political acts by grabbing a Turkish flag from the buffer zone that divides Cyprus and running off with it. Marios Matsakis, a former state coroner, snatched the flag from a Turkish sentry post some 20 kilometers south of Nicosia. «The Turks came into the area, they pointed their weapons at me but they did not shoot,» Matsakis told The Associated Press. The MEP said he would take the flag back to the European Parliament to emphasize the occupation of Cyprus, an EU member, by Turkey. The Cypriot government distanced itself from the incident. A Cypriot youth, Solomos Solomou, was shot dead by Turkish troops in August 1996 while trying to take down a flag in a buffer zone. Matsakis has courted controversy on several occasions in the past, leading a minister to label him a threat to national security in August 2000 after he raised the Cypriot flag at a Turkish guard post.