Children stranded in Cyprus return to Serbia

Two planes that departed for Cyprus to transport 13 children stranded at the Larnaca airport since Sunday evening landed in Belgrade early on Tuesday.

Source: B92
(Getty Images, illustration purposes, file)
(Getty Images, illustration purposes, file)

The children, members of the folklore ensemble KUD Izvor, were prevented from crossing to the Turkish part of the Island by customs officers of Greek ethnicity.

"The children were supposed to be guests of some cultural-artistic society on the 'occupied' part of Cyprus. I can't speak about the details, because I don't know them, but Cypriot authorities did not allow them to cross to that part," Serbian embassy official Dejan Bivolarevic said earlier.

It was unclear on Tuesday morning who was in the planes, considering that Izvor's director, Dejan Tosic, in charge of organizing the trip, said earlier that "there wouldn't be room for everyone one," and added, "three of us will have to stay behind and will be back in the country on April 19."

Tosic explained that the ensemble was to perform in a festival in the town of Girne (Greek: Kyrenia).

Tosic said that the Serbians showed their passports and invitation letters in Larnaca and that "much of the group passed without problems" - but then "suddenly, one customs officer started creating problems, and we were all sent back."

"He was bothered by us going to the Turkish part and because we were to preform in the parliament there," said Tosic.

The two Air Pink planes were sent to Cyprus in cooperation with the Serbian Foreign Ministry.

MFA's Secretary General Veljko Odalovic urged all those 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."

He specified that the Cypriot territory in question has been recognized only by Turkey, "so the Cypriot authorities' decision is not unexpected."

"Serbia can in no way stand behind organizing such events and visits, and that is why it's good to arrange these things in full cooperation. We would have pointed out to the fact that this is a huge, practically unsolvable problem, and that's how it played out - that festival could not be reached in this way," Odalovic said.

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