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Nearly 1.5 million crossings of the divide between April and August
2003-09-17 10:53:20

Nicosia, Sep 17 (CNA) -- There were nearly 1.5 million crossings between the free and the occupied areas of Cyprus and vice-versa between April 23 and August 31, 2003 according to a Justice and Public Order Ministry report on the government's measures aimed at improving the position of Turkish Cypriots.

Justice and Public Order Minister Doros Theodorou told a news conference on government measures for Turkish Cypriots that the government had shown its good will to help Turkish Cypriots by introducing a series of measures aimed at bringing people from both sides of the divide together and at improving the Turkish Cypriots' position, always within the framework of the Republic's laws and EU laws and directives.

Theodorou said the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and other countries would not accept the partial lifting of restrictions on free movement in Cyprus as a solution to the Cyprus problem.

The minister reported on each ministry's role in taking measures aimed at improving the position of the Turkish Cypriots.

According to his ministry's report there were 795,740 Greek Cypriot visits to the Turkish-occupied northern part between April 23, 2003 when the easing of the restrictions began, and August 31 while the number of Turkish Cypriot visits to the government-controlled areas reached 664,564.

Although there are no statistics available on the frequency of visits, Theodorou estimated that more 50 per cent of Greek Cypriots crossed into the occupied areas.

Theodorou said Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's argument that the two communities in Cyprus cannot coexist peacefully has collapsed and that new conditions, which cannot be ignored in the efforts for a Cyprus settlement, have been formed.

As regards the measures for Turkish Cypriots, Theodorou said that not all of them have been applied to the same extent.

The minister noted the steady increase of the number of applications by Turkish Cypriots to acquire documents, such as passports, identities, and birth certificates, of the Cyprus Republic.

He said the number of Turkish Cypriot vehicles coming to the government-controlled areas has significantly increased. A total of 54,617 vehicles passed to the free areas during the period April 23 - August 31.

There has also been an increase in the number of Turkish Cypriots visiting various public services, such as hospitals, telecommunications and labour and social insurance offices.

As regards Turkish Cypriots who work in the government-controlled areas, Theodooru said they are basically employed by the private sector.

Referring to the issue of the trade of Turkish Cypriot goods, Theodorou noted that due to the refusal of the Turkish Cypriot regime to accept the conditions, laws and procedures of the EU and the Cyprus Republic, there have not been much developments in this issue.

The minister said the government was monitoring the implementation of the measures and has been receiving remarks and complaints on them both by Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. He noted remarks were also received by embassies, such as the EU embassy in Nicosia.

''We hear them carefully and we try within the framework of the laws to improve the situation constantly,'' he assured.

The Cyprus government announced April 30, 2003 its policy and a set of measures for the Turkish Cypriots aimed at giving Turkish Cypriots who live mainly in the occupied areas the opportunity to enjoy, to the extent possible, the rights and benefits that the Republic of Cyprus offers its citizens.

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