The South Cyprus government has denied Turkish Cypriot claims that they prevented children from Russia and Serbia from attending youth day celebrations in the north of the island.
Turkish Cypriot newspaper ‘Kibris’ reported on Tuesday that the children, who were invited to attend Youth Day celebrations on April 23 in the north, had arrived in [South] Cyprus through Larnaca airport but were denied entry into Cyprus after it emerged that they would cross the border.
South Cyprus’ Foreign Ministry Permanent Secretary Alexandros Zenon countered those claims on state radio on Wednesday.
“At the airport, we advised them that taking part in such events organised by an illegal entity, are a violation of the UN charter and a provocation,” said Zenon.
“We reminded them that the Republic of Cyprus would not be able to protect them once they cross over into the north,” he added.
“The Serbian delegation then left at their own accord. The allegations that we did not allow them entry are false. They left because they reconsidered their actions although three people did decide to stay to holiday in the Republic,” said Zenon.
“If they had insisted we could not have stopped them. We just alerted them of the situation – that it was not an NGO but an invitation from an illegal ministry,” said Zenon.
“The Serbian delegation included 17 school pupils. I am not aware if the Serbian Education Ministry was aware of the invitation or if the school acted on its own. The Serbian embassy in Cyprus was not aware of the invitation,” he added.
“The same happened with the children from Russia. We informed the Russian embassy of the situation and they withdrew their participation instead of joining the celebrations,” concluded Zenon.
Update: Cyprus Mail reports that the Serbian foreign ministry said on Wednesday that a group of 13 Serbian children and their adult chaperones were denied entry to the Cyprus at Larnaca airport on Monday, after police saw that they had a letter inviting them to attend a Children’s Day festival on 23rd April by the Turkish Cypriot authorities,.
A statement issued by the Serbian ministry on Wednesday confirmed earlier reports from the north, stating that the children, all members of a dance troupe, had been “detained” and then “barred from leaving the airport”, before eventually being allowed to enter the Republic of Cyprus following diplomatic consultations.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris reported on Wednesday that non-EU nationals arriving in Republic of Cyprus-controlled points of entry are asked to state their place of residence in the government-controlled areas during their visit – otherwise, they are denied entry.
Eventually, they flew back home minus three of the adults who remained behind, not out of choice but because there were not enough seats on their return flight, the Serbian ministry said.
Cyprus Weekly, Cyprus Mail