The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) criticized the Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus (GCASC) on Wednesday for preventing tourists from crossing the border into the TRNC.
According to a written statement from the TRNC Foreign Affairs Ministry, the tourists, who intended to enter the Turkish side, were held at Larnaca Airport on the Greek Cypriot side of the island and later repatriated.
"The behavior shown [by the Greek Cypriot administration] is unacceptable, and it is the product of a mindset attempting to prevent our interaction with the world," the ministry said. Expressing their disappointment over such an "arbitrary" and "illegal" move, the TRNC added that they will take action against the GCASC if they continue to block travelers from entering the Turkish side of the island.
Although there are no legal measures preventing tourists crossing into the south from the TRNC, Greek Cypriot authorities have intensified control on traveling to the north for a while.
It is also mentioned in the statement that more than 30 Israeli tourists who wanted to enter the TRNC for a New Year's celebration were also sent back to their home country "regardless of the pecuniary and nonpecuniary damages the TRNC will suffer." The island of Cyprus has been divided between Turkish and Greek Cypriots since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup took place after decades of violence against the island's Turkish community, leading to Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power. It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including the latest initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of its guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the U.K. that collapsed in 2017.