Cyprus appeals to UN over Turkish detention of fishermen

Cyprus appeals to UN over Turkish detention of fishermen
Ankara said the fishing vessel ventured into Turkish-controlled waters, but the Greek-Cypriot ship owner denies the charge.
2 min read
22 September, 2018
Fishermen in Paphos, Cyprus [Getty]
Cyprus protested to the UN on Friday over Turkey's detention of a Cypriot-flagged fishing vessel and its crew, the government said. 

The Cypriot government "has made strong representations to the United Nations" and is working to release the fishermen, its spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said late on Friday.

The five crew on board the fishing vessel were all Egyptians, the state-run CNA news agency said.

The UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus said it too was working for the release of the crew members.

"We are aware of this incident and are in contact with authorities of both sides to help resolve the situation," said UN spokesman Aleem Siddique.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-sponsored military coup seeking to unite the Mediterranean island with Greece.

The Greek Cypriot owner of the boat told authorities a Turkish naval vessel approached it off the coast on Friday evening, arresting the crew and towing the boat to the Turkish-held port of Kyrenia, CNA said.

Turkish Cypriot media said the fishermen were arrested for straying into Turkish-controlled waters, 8 miles off the island's north coast.

But the boat's owner told CNA it was in international waters between Akamas and Kormakitis when the Turkish navy intercepted it.

Turkey is the only country to recognise a breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which Turkish Cypriot leaders declared in 1983.

Turkey has long maintained as many as 35,000 troops in the breakaway north although the military does not give official figures.

Earlier this month, Ankara said it could send more troops to northern Cyprus, despite calls for it to disengage from the breakaway region of the EU state.

The announcement is likely to further set back UN-backed efforts to launch new talks on reunifing the island.

A UN-sponsored referendum on reunification in 2004 was firmly rejected by Greek Cypriots but backed by a majority of Turkish Cypriots.

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