THE foreign ministry on Tuesday denied Turkish Cypriot reports that authorities had deported a group of Serbian children who arrived on the island through Larnaca airport on their way to take part in a cultural event in the north.
According to the ministry, the children’s guardians changed their minds after “it was explained to them that such a thing would constitute a violation of the UN resolutions”. It added however that the group was granted permission to enter the country.
“The children and their chaperones, voluntarily, chose not to go to the occupied areas, and departed from Cyprus,” the announcement said.
It added that a similar incident occurred recently with a group of children from Russia, who cancelled their attendance at an event in the north but stayed in the south of the island.
Serbian news portal B92 reported that 13 children – members of the folklore ensemble KUD Izvor – had arrived home early Tuesday after being stranded at Larnaca airport since Sunday evening.
The portal quoted Serbian embassy official Dejan Bivolarevic saying that the children were supposed to be guests of a cultural-artistic society in the north and that Cypriot authorities did not allow them to cross.
Izvor’s director, Dejan Tosic, told the news portal that the group was to perform in a festival in Kyrenia, but that when they showed their passports and invitation letters at Larnaca airport much of the group passed without any problem until a customs officer “started creating problems, and we were all sent back”.
A Serbian foreign ministry official urged groups planning similar trips abroad to inform the ministry, “because our diplomatic network would certainly have indicated, in a timely manner, the problems that could arise”. EU citizens are allowed to come and go from the north without restrictions.