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Media Watch 2003

01 May 2003
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Jean Christou
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 1 May 2003
Trade restrictions on north lifted

THE GOVERNMENT yesterday lifted a decades-old ban on trading with the north and will make an adjustment to Cyprus law to allow for the distribution of locally produced Turkish Cypriot goods to EU members states and other third countries.

The move is part of the long-awaited series of measures to help Turkish Cypriots announced after yesterday's cabinet meeting.

“We expect the contribution and agreement of the EU Commission and non-governmental organisations on this,” said Government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides, who announced the measures to Greek and Turkish Cypriot journalists at the Presidential Palace.

He made it clear that all the measures were within the laws of the Republic of Cyprus and did not constitute recognition of the Turkish Cypriot breakaway 'state' in the north.

An office for Turkish Cypriot Affairs would be set up to assist Turkish Cypriots to obtain their entitlement as citizens of the Republic and to administer the measures, he added.

Top among the measures is the unilateral de-mining of the Greek Cypriot side of the buffer zone, which has been in the works for several years.

“Despite the negative stance of the Turkish side on this issue the government will go ahead unilaterally in the very near future,” Chrysostomides said. The immediate measures include the freedom of movement of Turkish Cypriot cars to the government-controlled areas, which had been a bone of contention between both sides since the checkpoint was opened to Greek Cypriots eight days ago.

Chrysostomides said the free movement of vehicles would come into effect on May 10.

In the field of telecommunications, Chrysostomides said that CyTA would pursue roaming agreements with the two GSM providers in the north, TurkCell and TelSim, both Turkish companies. Contacts would begin tomorrow, he said.

In addition CyTA will also create automated landline phone links with both the north and with Turkey. CyBC will adjust its programming to include more programmes geared towards Turkish Cypriots and broadcast more extensive Turkish-language news bulletins. A 24-hotline is also in the pipeline for enquiries about healthcare and hospital admissions.

Chrysostomides said that practical measures would also be put in place to help Turkish Cypriots to find jobs.

“Turkish Cypriots will be able to register with district labour offices and pursue applications by email,” he said stressing that all Turkish Cypriot workers would be entitled to employment conditions identical to Greek Cypriots with no discrimination.

Emphasis would be placed on employing qualified and professional staff.

The government will also consider giving out projects to Turkish Cypriot contractors and sub contractors provided they meet the relevant laws and criteria, Chrysostomides said.

Under the measures Turkish Cypriots will be allowed to participate in EU and other education programmes run by the government and the Turkish language will be introduced in schools, the spokesman said, without elaborating on when that would be. Free Greek lessons will be provided for Turkish Cypriots.

Turkish Cypriot athletes will be invited to join the Cyprus national team in various events, including the Olympics. They will also be invited to take part in other events abroad, Chrysostomides said.

The government also pledged to resolve the issue of the Turkish Cypriot persons listed as missing since the intercommunal violence in 1963-64 and those reported missing during the fighting in 1974, the spokesman said.

A Commission will also be set up, in cooperation with UNFICYP to deal with human rights issues relating to Turkish Cypriots, he said.

Authorities will pursue amendments to present legislation to allow Turkish Cypriots to vote in local and European Parliament elections, Chrysostomides said.

That provision would require an amendment to the constitution since by law, Turkish and Greek Cypriots vote separately."