By Martin Banks - 14th March 2011
This kind of thing undermines the current talks to reunify the island
Greek Cypriot spokesman
Two Polish MEPs were detained for several hours for allegedly trespassing in a restricted military area in northern Cyprus.
Jaroslaw Leszek Walesa , the son of former Polish president Lech Walesa, and Artur Zasada were later released but initially refused to leave the police station until two other Greek Cypriot men who were detained with them are also freed.
Greek Cypriot MEP Eleni Theocharous said Turkish Cypriot police had told the two Greek Cypriot men — former MEP Yiannakis Matsis and Loizos Afxentiou — that they would remain in custody until they could appear in court later this week.
Theocharous said the four men were part of a larger group that included her, Bulgarian European MP Mariya Nedelcheva and two Orthodox Christian clergymen.
The group was visiting abandoned Varosha, a fenced-off Greek Cypriot suburb of Famagusta on the island's east coast that is controlled by the Turkish army and is known as a 'ghost town'.
Cyprus was split into a Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north in 1974 when Turkey intervened after a coup by supporters of union with Greece.
Theocharous said 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.
Greek Cypriot government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou condemned the arrests as an "illegal act" saying, "This kind of thing undermines the current talks to reunify the island."
The talks — now in their third year — have produced only limited progress.
Theocharous said the team had gone north to witness firsthand the "destruction of Greek Orthodox churches in the north."
She said no explanation was given as to why the delegation was detained and had their passports and identity cards confiscated.
The church of Cyprus claims that, since the 1974 intervention, more than 500 churches in the north have been pillaged and many archaeological and other cultural heritage sites abandoned to the elements.