President Akıncı has asked that the border crossings be opened without delay, however, Prime Minister Tatar and his government have been cautious about reopening the border fearing the spread of infection.
The Minister for Health, Dr Ali Pilli has said that there must be no new cases of Covid-19 reported in the south for 14 consecutive days, before he agrees to open the border crossings.
It was reported that the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Health had agreed that the borders could reopen on June 8. At their last meeting it was said that their data showed the progress of the disease on both sides of the divide was similar.
President Akıncı, Prime Minister Tatar, deputy PM Özersay and Health Minister Pilli met on Friday afternoon, following which, the President told the press that the members of the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Health had agreed on Monday, June 8, as the date for opening the checkpoints. He called on the government to make a decision on the matter “without delay“.
Prior to this meeting deputy PM Kudret Özersay announced that the border checkpoints would open on 1 July, to the outrage of Turkish Cypriots who work in the south. They have held two demonstrations outside parliament demanding to know when the border would reopen. Those affected say that they have already lost their jobs or fear doing so.
Main opposition Republican Turkish Party (CTP) leader Tufan Erhürman and his fellow MPs and the Social Democratic Party (TDP) MP Hüseyin Angolemli came out of parliament to support the protesters.
Additionally, a journalist writing for Greek Cypriot daily ‘Phileleftheros’ has accused PM Tatar of deliberately keeping the borders closed for political reasons.
An opinion piece published today said that:
“ With all the developments and if there is no differentiation of the data [on Covid-19 infections], the students who live in the “occupied territories” (both Turkish Cypriots studying in the free areas and Greek Cypriots trapped in Pile) are in danger of losing their year and exams. The problem is also serious for Turkish Cypriots working in the “free zones”.
“Despite the efforts that have been made in the last 24 hours, our information indicates that there has been no changes on the Turkish Cypriot side and therefore they will remain closed for unknown reasons.”
Speaking to Cyprus Today, former parliamentary speaker and head of the Scientific Board of the Prime Ministry, Dr Sibel Siber, said:
“Opening the borders means increasing the risks. What must be asked is, is the Rt (transmission rate) of the virus similar (to the TRNC?). The answer to this question must be given by the Scientific Board.
“Secondly, does the TRNC have the necessary health foundations to deal with an outbreak? This must again be answered by the Scientific Board in accordance with statistics to be given to it by the Health Ministry.
Cyprus Today, Philnews