Tourism ban on north is racist and double-standard

Columnist for Greek Cypriot daily ‘Cyprus Weekly’, Charlie Charalambous writes that Cyprus likes to give off the image of a happy, laid-back place where tourists can enjoy the sunny weather and the beaches. However, it is also assumed that everyone is “au fait” with the political mess caused by the Cyprus problem.

Lefkosa is that last divided capital in the world, where political intrigue has ensured that the dividing line has remained in place

Charalambous writes that lip service is paid to the notion of a bi-communal federation but “when it comes to the fine print the ‘Turkish Intransigence clause’ kicks-in and high hopes turn to dust followed by an aftershock of recriminations,” he writes.

Although Cypriots want to believe in a solution, they are scarred by the past and politicians continue to rub salt in their wounds. Today, Cyprus is a popular tourist hot spot that has a 180-kilometre ceasefire line etched across its landscape – a line it doesn’t want visitors to cross.

After the previous week’s debacle regarding the refusal of granting entry to third country tourists into Cyprus, on the grounds that they were going to holiday in the north, Charamblous said that this event apparently “came about because of a bright spark at the Foreign Ministry. He issued a circular that non-EU citizens booking a holiday in the north – and in all probability staying in property usurped from Greek Cypriots – must be banned from entry.

This is not only racist in concept – because if it is illegal for non-EU visitors to go north then it is illegal for everybody else – but shifts the blame for our inability to resolve the problem on foreigners.”

Since the authorities permit Turkish Cypriot taxis or coaches to pick up tourist from Larnaca airport, why impose such a ban, he queries.

Why is it okay for Greek Cypriots to go north and gamble at casinos or fly out from Tymbou [Ercan] airport when a Serbian, Israeli or Lebanese can’t? Either let nobody cross – shut up shop for good – or accept the situation as the best of a bad deal”, he concludes.

Cyprus Weekly

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