The government is following closely developments taking place at the border crossing after new practices have been proposed by the South Cyprus government, Deputy Prime Minister Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay has said.
On Wednesday, following the approval of the changes by the cabinet, Greek Cypriot Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides said that together with the foreign ministry, they proposed amending the Green Line code of implementation to prohibit the movement of third-country nationals arriving from an illegal entry point, such as Ercan airport, to areas controlled by the Republic [South Cyprus].
Among others, third-country nationals who have not arrived on the island through “authorised ports of entry” were banned from crossing into the South. Third-country nationals on temporary resident visas, like domestic workers, have also been banned from going north.
Özersay added that if the Greek Cypriot side’s concerns were regarding refugees then the Turkish Cypriot side ready to cooperate on this issue.
But he said that if their aim is to harm the TRNC’s economy then they too will take the necessary measures.
“They are using the refugee issue as an excuse to enforce restrictions. If they really are trying to take measures regarding refugees then we as Turkish Cypriot officials are ready to cooperate. But if they are using refugees as an excuse to negatively affect tourists thereby harming our economy then we will be forced to take measures that will negatively affect the Greek Cypriot side. We do not want to take such action, I just hope they don’t force our hand”, said Özersay.
He also gave a message to the public that as the deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, he was closely following developments and announced that currently no changes had been made to the Green Line regulation.
Noting that due to the two states in Cyprus not recognising one another, a variety of problems did exist and due to there being no agreement between the two sides this was only natural, Foreign Minister Özersay said “the problems we are experiencing due to the lack of cooperation can actually be solved and there is no need to wait for a comprehensive solution on the island.”
Meanwhile Greek Cypriot party AKEL has said that certain changes proposed by the government to the Green Line Regulation implementation code essentially turned the buffer zone into a hard border.
AKEL said both provisions were problematic; on one hand there was discrimination between third-country nationals and Europeans, and secondly, what was the legal and political basis for restricting the right to free movement of a group of people residing within its territory legally?
“Both changes raise a big political issue over the status of the Green Line, which is essentially turned into a hard border on the initiative of our own government”, Akel said.
The ban will not affect asylum seekers. Tourists will also be allowed through, as long as they will not be staying in Greek Cypriot properties.
BRT, Cyprus Mail