Turk Cypriots accuse U.N. of bias in road construction dispute

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Turkish Cypriots on Tuesday accused the United Nations of bias in a dispute over a road construction project that led to the most serious incidents of tension in years on the ethnically divided island last week.

Scuffles broke out on Friday between U.N. peacekeepers and Turkish Cypriot security personnel when peacekeepers attempted to prevent construction work in an area the U.N. mission in Cyprus, UNFICYP, says is under its jurisdiction.

The incidents - the most serious in years - were condemned by the U.N. Security Council in a statement on Monday.

Turkish Cypriots and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan have said that it was the actions of the peacekeepers which were unacceptable, however, and that the road project was essential.

"The latest incident revealed once again the biased attitude of the UNFICYP," the foreign ministry of breakaway North Cyprus said in a statement.

The U.N. Security Council also called in its statement for the removal of all unauthorised construction, and for the prevention of unauthorised military and civilian activities within and along the ceasefire lines on the island.

The Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) is an unrecognised breakaway state recognised only by Turkey, carved out of territory that Turkey invaded in 1974 after a brief Greek-backed military coup.

Turkish Cypriot authorities want to construct a road directly linking the village of Pyla/Pile, which is in the U.N. controlled buffer zone, to Turkish Cypriot territory. The U.N. and the Greek Cypriot side say the project is a violation of the status quo in the buffer zone.

Greek Cypriots, who run an internationally recognised government and represent Cyprus in the European Union, said any continuation could have a negative effect not only on attempts to restart peace talks, "but also in relation to the future of EU-Turkish relations", the Cypriot ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement.

(Reporting By Michele Kambas; Editing by Hugh Lawson)