Cyprus Protests to UN over Turkish Detention of Fishermen


Cyprus has protested to the United Nations over the detention by Turkish forces on Friday 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 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, 14 kilometres off the island's north coast.

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, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that Turkey would increase rather than reduce its troop numbers in a move likely to further set back UN-backed efforts to launch new talks on reunifing the island.

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