Hundreds of Greek Cypriot students protesting the existence of the Turkish Cypriot state stormed through the U.N.-manned barbed wire barricades that separate this island's Turkish and Greek sectors.
Tuesday's protest coincided with a speech by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash marking the fifth anniversary of the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.In the speech, Denktash insisted Turkey must guarantee any peace settlement for Cyprus, saying the breakaway state he heads has a "rightful place" in any federation re-uniting this divided island.
After a Greek Cypriot coup d'etat aimed at uniting Cyprus with Greece, Turkish troops invaded in 1974 and took control of the northern 37 percent of the island. On Nov. 15, 1983, the 120,000 Turkish Cypriots, a one-fifth minority, proclaimed their republic in the Turkish-controlled area. Only Turkey recognizes it.
The protesting students had marched to a Nicosia checkpoint on the buffer zone, penetrated the barbed wire and pushed past members of the Canadian U.N. peacekeeping force policing the zone.
They were stopped by Turkish Cypriot police.
Witnesses said a Greek Cypriot teenager was slightly injured when hit by a stone thrown by a Turkish Cypriot youth.
"Protesting Greek Cypriots must understand that Turkey will never accept union of Cyprus with Greece and elimination of the Turkish Cypriots. We need security," Denktash said.
Referring to upcoming negotiations at the United Nations, he said Greek Cypriots must not think they will "preside over the funeral of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus."
"The sole condition for a lasting peace in Cyprus is for (Greek Cypriots) to accept and respect the rights and existence of Turkish Cypriots," he said.
Denktash is scheduled to meet the Greek Cypriot leader, Cyprus President George Vassiliou, and U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar on Nov. 22 and 23. The two Cypriot leaders have met repeatedly in recent weeks seeking a formula for federation.
Denktash told Greek Cypriots: "If you want a new order, a federation, Turkey, which saved us from certain death, must be allowed to guarantee it."