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Four EU parliamentarians detained by North Cyprus police

Turkish Cypriot police have detained two European parliamentarians for allegedly trespassing on a restricted military area in the breakaway north of ethnically split Cyprus, a Greek Cypriot member of the European Parliament said on Saturday.

Polish parliamentarians Jaroslaw Leszek Walesa and Artur Zasada were told that they will remain in custody until they appear in a court in the next couple of days, said EuroMP Eleni Theocharous, a Greek Cypriot. Theocharous said Walesa is the son of former Polish President Lech Walesa.

Two other Greek Cypriot men — former EuroMP Yiannakis Matsis and Loizos Afxentiou — were also detained with them, she told The Associated Press.

Theocharous said the four were part of a larger group that included herself, Bulgarian EuroMP Mariya Nedelcheva and two Orthodox Christian clergymen visiting abandoned Varosha, a fenced-off Greek Cypriot suburb of Famagusta on the island’s east coast that is controlled by the Turkish army.

Cyprus was split into a Greek speaking south and a Turkish speaking north in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Turkish Cypriots declared independence in 1983 but only Turkey recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and maintains 35,000 troops there. Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004, but only the internationally recognized south enjoys membership benefits.

Theocharous told the AP by telephone that the four men had entered the courtyard of a derelict Varosha Orthodox Christian church when they were confronted by soldiers who turned them over to arriving police officers. She said no other member of the group was arrested.

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