Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders on Thursday condemned the defacing of a mosque in Cyprus’ southern Limassol province.
Unidentified individuals wrote slogans praising the Greek independence uprising of March 25, 1821 and drew Greek flags on the walls of a mosque in the village of Episkopi, the state-run Turkish News Agency Cyprus reported.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the north in response to a brief Greek Cypriot coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece.
Since then, the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus has controlled the southern two-thirds of the island, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), only recognised by Turkey, the northern third.
In a written statement, TRNC President Ersin Tatar said Greek Cypriot provocations had once again escalated ahead of international talks over the future of the island.
“Our advice to the Greek Cypriot leadership is to prevent these attacks and to arrest those responsible as soon as possible,” he said.
The United Nations will host a five-party meeting involving both administrations on the island, as well as Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom in Geneva on April 27.
The Greek Cypriot government also strongly condemned the vandalism, describing the perpetrators as “brainless”, the Cyprus Mail reported.
“The government will not show any tolerance at all for such delinquent behaviours,” Greek Cypriot spokesperson Kyriacos Koushos said.
“Malicious actions, such as these, do not in any way contribute to the creation of the right climate that we seek in our effort to find a solution to the Cyprus problem and the reunification of our homeland,” Koushos added.
Local Mayor Lefkios Prodromou said the vandalism was carried out at night by hooded men and was the third incident of its kind at the mosque, according to the Cyprus Mail.
“The damage would be repaired first thing on Friday,” Prodromou said.