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Media Watch 2003

03 May 2003
Source: Cyprus Mail
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 3 May 2003.
Hotel owners seeking compensation from Greek Cypriots who stay at their properties in the occupied north

Tourism Minister George Lillikas also condemned those Greek Cypriots who behaved like tourists in the occupied areas -- particularly those who stay overnight at hotels.

Chrysostomides said those who chose to holiday at hotels in the occupied north should not mar the image of the thousands of refugee Greek Cypriots who visited their ancestral homes. But, he added, staying in hotels that belonged to Greek Cypriots was illegal, and he said the government could not rule out the possibility that Greek Cypriot hoteliers would sue for compensation from Greek Cypriots who stay in their hotels in the occupied area, as this was being done without their permission and could be considered a violation of private property.

He added, however, that the government had no intention of imposing any restrictions on citizens' freedom of movement and that it was up each individual to decide what he or she would do.

Lillikas said he could understand the need for refugees to visit their family homes, but that beyond that there was no excuse for recreational trips to the north.

"What I cannot understand and cannot accept are citizens who want to go to the occupied areas for recreational reasons and to have fun. (I believe) we cannot be tourists and behave as tourists in our occupied lands. I think that this e coffee at Kyrenia harbour, was "totally unacceptable".

"Each Cypriot citizen should act according to his or her good conscience and should base their criteria on the benefit of our country as a whole; not selfishly. We (the government) support free movement, but complete free movement, one that is within the legal framework of solving the Cyprus problem and uniting our country, without dividing lines and without any controls," he said.

Although Chrysostomides could not say how many Greek Cypriots were currently staying in or had hotel reservations in the occupied areas, he quoted Turkish Cypriot sources as saying that of the 120,000 Greek Cypriots who had visited the occupied areas in the past week, 2,500 had stayed over. According to the Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kibris, hotels normally only 10-15 per cent full now had 60 per cent occupancy rates. The paper added that Greek Cypriots had spent more than *Labour Minister Makis Keravnos also added that no union had expressed qualms about a reduction in hotel or restaurant work because of the sudden surge of Greek Cypriots flocking to the north. In fact, he said a report on the tourism industry showed encouraging signs of it being on the mend, following the recent US-led attack on Iraq which had almost crippled the industry."