EU to Migrants: Europe Is 'Closed'

As Cypriot police pepper-spray protesters
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 7, 2020 10:00 AM CST
EU to Migrants: Europe Is 'Closed'
Greek Cypriot demonstrators shout slogans during a protest against a closed crossing point in the ethnically divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Saturday, March 8, 2020.   (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Cyprus riot police used pepper spray on Saturday to thwart Turkish Cypriot protesters trying to shove their way through a barricaded crossing point in the heart of the ethnically divided island nation's capital, the AP reports. Several dozen protesters tried to push their way through a cordon of riot police on the Greek Cypriot side of the east Mediterranean island nation, but were held back. Police said protesters hurled rocks and four Greek Cypriot officers were injured. Last week, the Cypriot government closed four of nine crossing points along a 120 mile, UN-controlled buffer zone, justifying the move on public health grounds. It said it would better enable medical staff to screen for potential coronavirus carriers crossing from the Turkish Cypriot north to the Greek Cypriot south.

Additional health workers have been posted to the other openings for more thorough checks. Cyprus has so far no confirmed coronavirus cases. Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades pointed to the fact that 3,000 Iranians live and study in the north. Iran has been hard hit by the new virus. "This division is not acceptable, this is not a coronavirus issue," said Turkish Cypriot activist Murat Kanatli. Meanwhile, the Guardian quotes Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief, as sending a tough message to migrants in Turkey: "Don't go to the border. The border is not open," he said. "...Avoid moving to a closed door. And please don't tell people that they can go because it's not true."

(Read more migrants stories.)

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