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Government welcomes easing of restrictions on free movement
2003-04-24 11:25:42

Nicosia, Apr 24 (CNA) -- The government welcomed today the easing of restrictions on free movement of Cypriots, which the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus had imposed, and described this development as ''positive.''

Government Spokesman Kypros Chrisostomides stressed however that such moves do not constitute the solution of the Cyprus question and reiterated the government's resolve to find a negotiated settlement.

He said by around lunchtime today about 300 Turkish Cypriots crossed from the northern Turkish occupied areas into the southern government controlled part of the island.

The spokesman said just over 600 Greek Cypriots went to the occupied part of Cyprus, many in their own private cars and noted that there were long queues of cars up to 1,000 in line waiting to go through.|

''We welcome the easing of restrictions on the movement of people. This move, even the partial lifting of restrictions, is something positive but what we demand is to end the Turkish occupation and solve the problem. Our firm policy is to secure free movement of all the legal residents in Cyprus throughout the territory of the Republic,'' he stressed.

He announced that the government is offering free transport to Turkish Cypriots who cross into the government-controlled areas to get to other towns than Nicosia.

The spokesman stressed that ''these measures, announced by the illegal regime, is not the solution in Cyprus.''

''Popular demand for a political settlement is increasing and this pressure has resulted in the partial lifting of restrictions on freedom of movement on the part of the illegal regime,'' Chrisostomides said.

Asked if Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has gained first impressions from this development, he replied ''it does not appear that there was any positive reaction to his announcement'', recalling that Dentkash maintained a very negative stance during the UN-led peace talks, something that led efforts to find a settlement to a deadlock.

He noted that statements by foreign governments and officials make it clear that they want genuine moves and procedures leading to a settlement.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. CNA MM/MK/2003

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