The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen joined the U.K., France and the U.S. in expressing shock and disapproval over an assault on U.N. peacekeepers on Cyprus by Turkish Cypriots.
“I strongly condemn the attacks on @UN_CYPRUS peacekeepers by Turkish Cypriot personnel. Threats and assaults on UN peacekeepers are unacceptable,” von der Leyen said late Friday on social media.
U.N. forces on the divided Mediterranean island on Friday morning blocked Turkish Cypriot construction workers who were building a road near the village of Pyla/Pile that encroached on the U.N. enforced buffer zone. The zone divides the southern half of the island, which is controlled by Greek Cypriots, from the breakaway Turkish north.
Video obtained by the Telegraph showed bulldozers picking up U.N. vehicles and tossing them across the landscape. Angry physical clashes reportedly left three U.N. personnel — two Brits and a Slovak — in need of hospital treatment.
“Threats to the safety of U.N. peacekeepers and damage to U.N. property are unacceptable and constitute a serious crime under international law which will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” the U.N. mission to Cyprus said on Friday.
“The EU also calls on the Turkish Cypriot side to respect the UN mission’s mandate in the buffer zone and refrain from actions that escalate tensions,” von der Leyen said in her post.
The British, French and U.S. representations in Nicosia released a joint statement demanding that all construction in the buffer zone cease and calling for the resumption of negotiations between the Turkish and Greek sides.
The assault comes just two days after EU observers were caught in a firefight between Azeribaijani and Armenian forces in Armenia.