The decision by the breakaway regime in northern Cyprus to start charging customs duties on goods carried by UN peacekeepers to enclaved Greek Cypriots was ‘unfortunate,’ UNFICYP said in a statement on Friday.
“Delivering humanitarian assistance is based on a broad, longstanding agreement between the sides (in divided Cyprus) known as Vienna III,” added the statement.
Speaking to AFP in New York, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, self-declared Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Tahsin Ertugruloglu said he would inform UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix of the plan on Saturday.
“As a sign of goodwill, the decision will be enforced as of October 1,” he also said.
The recent collapse of the talks was the “proven failure” of a 50-year effort to create a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, Ertugruloglu said.
“Cyprus’ history has entered a new phase in which the UN will not be able to operate as before,” he added.
The UN peacekeeping force that has been deployed between the two communities since 1964 will have to learn to work with a more assertive Turkish Cypriot administration, he also said.
“The UN convoys are not going to be allowed to carry things (humanitarian assistance) because it gives the impression that these people are enclaved in occupied territory.
“And if they continue to take these supplies up to the north, then we’re going to have to charge customs duty that the Greek Cypriots will be forced to pay.”
UNFICYP’s response was that together with deliveries made to Maronite communities in the north, they provide hundreds of elderly and other vulnerable persons with basic supplies.
“This unilateral announcement at this time is unfortunate and we hope that a mutual arrangement suitable to all can be found,” they added.
At the end of the second phase of the Turkish invasion in August 1974, about 20,000 Greek and Maronite Cypriots living in villages and townships primarily in the Karpas Peninsula and in villages west of the coastal town of Kyrenia remained behind the ceasefire line.
Only 437 (April 2013) people remain, 328 Greek Cypriots and 109 Maronite Cypriots.