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Media Watch 2003

06 May 2003
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: George Psyllides
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 6 May 2003
No exceptions for Turkish Cypriot traders


TURKISH CYPRIOT companies wanting to trade with Greek Cypriot businesses must abide by the laws of the Republic, Trade Industry and Tourism Minister George Lillikas said yesterday.

The minister also warned tour operators that the government opposed any plans of organising tours to the occupied north.

Lillikas yesterday confirmed that foreign tour operators were planning to include the occupied areas in their programmes but was sure they would understand the government’s concerns on the matter.

“Surely what we’ll do as a government in case some tour operators attempt this is to convey our opposition and I’m convinced these foreign operators will respect the Republic’s decision,” Lillikas said.

Concerning trading with the north, Lillikas said any Turkish Cypriot businesses wanting to do that should abide by the laws of the Republic and European Union directives, which include registering with the VAT service.

“Any Greek and Turkish Cypriot companies or businessmen wishing to co-operate or trade products, which are produced in Cyprus, should follow the procedure specified by Cyprus law,” the minister said.

He warned that private citizens could not move goods apart from those bought for personal consumption and anything else would be confiscated by customs, which carried out regular checks at the three checkpoints.

Around £7 million have flowed to the north since movement restrictions were lifted by the Turkish Cypriot regime on April 23.

The regime’s decision to allow overnight stays has sparked controversy as many Greek Cypriots stayed in hotels taken over by Turkish Cypriots after the 1974 invasion.

Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides yesterday said the government was trying to find out the names of those who stayed over and despite not being able to take legal measures, it will support any civil suit against them filed by the legal owners of the hotels for trespassing.

Chrysostomides said it was a different issue when it came down to goods produced in the north, as they could not be viewed as stolen in the strict sense of the law since it was difficult to determine where they came from.

“It very different from the hotel, which is there with ownership titles; there is the history of every hotel and laws concerning illegal entry as well as decisions by the European Court of Human Rights that recognise a continuance in ownership titles,” Chrysostomides said.

He said despite being displeased that products could originate from Greek Cypriot properties, determining that, was next to impossible and in any case the two issues had to be differentiated.

Regarding stays in hotels owned by Turkish Cypriots prior to 1974, Chrysostomides said there was no way to prevent anyone from staying and in effect helping the Turkish Cypriot regime financially.

The spokesman said as far as he knew, Turkish Cypriots owned 16 per cent of the privately owned land across the island. He could not say how much of that land was located in the north."