The Greek Cypriot side has been introducing new restrictions unrelated to the Covid-19 epidemic for some time at the border crossing points, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay has said. He added that he hoped that the south would review and end these hindrances and not compel the TRNC to take similar steps.
Özersay said the following:
“The Greek side has introduced new restrictions at the border crossings that have not been related to the epidemic for some time. We are telling our interlocutors from the United Nations and the EU since July 1 that these new restrictions are not related to the epidemic and that they aim to prune some of the transition rights under the Green Line Regulation and damage the Turkish Cypriot economy. It is understood that the Greek side will continue this intimidation policy unless all the political actors in our country are united and react to it.
“As you may remember, before even the Covid 19 outbreak occurred in our country, the Greek Cypriot side announced that it was planning to make some changes in the Green Line Regulation and some details about the passage of foreigners through the border gates were included in the Greek press.
“…we pointed out that the Greek Cypriot side aimed to prevent foreign tourists coming to the TRNC through the southern Cyprus sea and airports. However, the reaction of the Commission to this initiative, which we brought to the attention of the European Union at that time, either prevented or delayed the Greek side’s implementation.
“This time the Greek Cypriot side has taken the Green Line Regulation under the name of “implementing legislation“, but obviously put the new rule into effect, during the outbreak. In summary, they do not permit foreign individuals (whether they are citizens of an EU member country or the third country) who want to travel to TRNC to cross after traveling by sea and air to south Cyprus. This problem has been experienced at the Metehan border crossing for the last 10 days. As there is no Greek checkpoint at the Beyarmudu border gate, foreigners crossing from there to the north are having trouble crossing from north to south this time.
“They are trying to continue these blocking attempts through UK officials to extend them to those who will now cross through British Sovereign Bases where they do not have their own checkpoints. It is understood that they are looking at the origin of the travellers.
“This practice means that [TRNC] tourism via southern Cyprus is largely eliminated and killed off. While it allows the passage of Greek Cypriots and foreigners who have permanent residence in southern Cyprus, other foreigners coming from abroad (if they are not Turkish Cypriots) are not allowed transition to the TRNC, which is devoid of good will and targets our economy. This practice, which contravenes the Green Line Regulation in violation of EU law, causes thousands of people to lose their rights and has a significant restrictive / prohibitive meaning on the freedom of individuals traveling on the island of Cyprus.
“Since the beginning of July, this wrong and harmful practice that we brought to the attention of the UN, then the UK and EU officials, needs to be changed. In this respect, we will continue to fight internationally. I hope they review and terminate these misapplications that damage the Turkish Cypriot economy as soon as possible and further limit the free movement of individuals on the island of Cyprus, and do not compel us to take similar steps.”
[** This appears to be a new development as last year, foreign tourists crossing from south to north were permitted to do so provided they were not staying in Greek Cypriot properties. Ed]