UN regrets tax on aid to Greek Cypriots in breakaway north

A U.N guard post is seen behind barbed wires inside the U.N buffer zone by a Turkish and Turkish Cypriot breakaway flags are seen at the north part of the divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. The United Nations Peace Keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) says that it regrets a decision by Turkish Cypriot authorities to start imposing taxes and fees on humanitarian goods delivered to Greek Cypriots in the breakaway north of the ethnically split island. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A man walks by the U.N buffer zone, is seen an abandoned building in the background, as on the wall reads "Federal Solution" in the divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. The United Nations Peace Keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) says that it regrets a decision by Turkish Cypriot authorities to start imposing taxes and fees on humanitarian goods delivered to Greek Cypriots in the breakaway north of the ethnically split island. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA, Cyprus — The United Nations Peace Keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) said Wednesday that it regrets a decision by Turkish Cypriot authorities to start imposing taxes and fees on humanitarian goods delivered to Greek Cypriots in the breakaway north of the ethnically split island.

UNFICYP said that Wednesday's aid delivery to Greek Cypriots in the remote Karpas Peninsula on the island's northeastern tip was limited to medical supplies because of the Turkish Cypriot decision, which it called an "unfortunate development."

The UN force said its weekly deliveries of humanitarian assistance to Greek Cypriots and Maronites in the north over the past 40 years have been based on a longstanding agreement.

Some 400 Greek Cypriots and Maronites — many of whom are elderly — live in the north and have been receiving food, medical supplies and cleaning agents on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

They remained after a population exchange in the aftermath of a 1974 Turkish invasion that was triggered by a coup of supporters of union with Greece.

The invasion left the island split into a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north and an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south. A 1983 Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence is recognized only by Turkey.

Nicos Anastasiades, the island's Greek Cypriot president, decried the decision as "completely illegal" and against existing agreements.

"These measures, unfortunately, are poisoning the positive climate we're trying to foster," Anastasiades said, adding that the Cypriot government would not pay taxes to an "illegal regime."

A Turkish Cypriot foreign ministry statement said the new taxes don't violate any agreement. It accused the Cyprus government of long "exploiting politically" the presence of Greek Cypriots in the north as an "enclave living in occupied territories" even if they're free to come and go as they please.

The move comes nearly three months after high-level talks to reunify the island collapsed.

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