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Erdoğan accuses peacekeepers of blocking Cyprus road project, loss of impartiality

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused the UN peacekeeping forces in Cyprus of blocking a road project in the buffer zone dividing the island and of losing their impartiality, Agence France-Presse reported.

The United Nations said Turkish Cypriot forces on Friday attacked peacekeepers who were attempting to block construction of the road in the buffer zone.

The confrontation occurred in an ethnically mixed village in the UN-patrolled area between the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus in the south and the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC).

The KKTC government is recognized only by Turkey.

Erdoğan accused the UN force of illegally moving into Turkish Cypriot territory to halt the construction of the road.

“The physical intervention of the UN forces on the territory of [northern Cyprus] last Friday is unacceptable,” Erdoğan said in his first public remarks about one of the most serious incidents of its kind on the island in years.

“It is neither legal nor humane to prevent Turkish Cypriots living in Pyla from accessing their homeland.”

The United Nations said four peacekeepers were wounded as they tried to block the “unauthorized construction work” near Pyla.

The European Union condemned Friday’s violence, and Washington blamed it on unauthorized construction begun on the Turkish Cypriot side.

The incident occurred as Erdoğan is looking to bolster relations with the European Union.

Last month, he dropped Turkey’s opposition to Sweden joining the NATO defense alliance in exchange for a pledge from Brussels to revive Ankara’s long-stalled accession talk to the European bloc.

But EU officials have made talks on closer ties with Turkey contingent on settling the decades-long Cyprus dispute.

“Solving the Cyprus issue in line with the relevant United Nations resolutions will be key in this re-engagement with Turkey,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said last month.

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