Cyprus Mail
Cyprus Cyprus Talks

Deadlock at Dherynia, mayor has ‘no idea’ when crossing will open

By Nathan Morley

THE MAYOR of Dherynia has ‘no idea’ when a new crossing point will open, as a smouldering dispute over the issue appears to be completely deadlocked.

Greek Cypriot authorities insist the crossing point must use an existing road, which was sealed in 1974, and not an alternative route put forward by the Turkish army.

“Our point of view – which we will insist on – is that the road goes straight down, we use the old road,” the mayor of Dherynia Andros Karayiannis told the Sunday Mail. “We don’t need a new bypass. It’s also cheaper than creating another road.”

The agreement to open a crossing was seen as a major achievement for the UN Special Envoy Espen Barthe Eide, but now it is reported by Yeni Duzen that the issue is ‘completely deadlocked’, with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci being accused of cowering to the Turkish army.

Andros Karayiannis
Andros Karayiannis

In a highly critical Kibris Postasi column, journalist Ulas Baris called on Akinci to show ‘political will’ and confront the army to resolve the issue.

“The only thing needed for Akinci opening this gate is the political will. Very well, where this political will is deriving from? From the approximately 60 per cent which he secured in 26 April’s elections,” Baris wrote.

So far Akinci has not addressed the subject, despite sealing a deal with President Nicos Anastasiades in May to open the crossing as a confidence-building measure.

The precise reason for Turkish re-routing plans remain unclear, with media outlets in the north reporting the main concerns of the military include minefields and fears that the area would become a shrine to Greek Cypriots Tassos Issak and Solomos Solomou, who were both murdered near the old road in 1996 after anti-Turkish occupation demos.

It is understood the United Nations are eyeing ways to unlock the stalemate after six-weeks of wrangling.

Mertkan Hamit, a member of the Famagusta Initiative, a bicommunal citizens’ movement, said there is widespread opposition to the Turkish “alternative road” proposal.

“We have to understand the Greek Cypriots. The existing road is called ‘the Famagusta road’ by the Greek Cypriots. This name and route has a moral value for the Greek Cypriots,” Hamit said.

In his column, Baris added that if Akinci did not have the authority to sanction the opening of the crossing, he should have never publicly agreed to the move.

feature nathan - View of Famagusta from Derynia

“When this issue came onto the agenda from the very beginning, he should have said to his interlocutor ‘I do not have the authority to open this gate my friend’,” Baris said.

Concerns nonetheless persist in the Turkish Cypriot media over whether the Turkish military would be prepared to move their existing outposts and guard houses to facilitate the new crossing.

Baris said that as it stands, the area acts as a huge military installation, inaccessible to the public: “The political will has no say in the military zones. Therefore, the army is the main competent authority in the Dherynia crossing issue”.

Commentators on both sides of the Green Line have lined up to urge the situation to be quickly resolved, with Baris openly stating that Akinci could do nothing without permission from Ankara.

“Mr Akinci must urgently decide: he will either open the gate giving the message to his Greek Cypriot interlocutors that ‘I have political will’ or he will shelve the issue with a move that will be tantamount to ‘I cannot disobey the higher authorities’. It is not possible to remain silent on this issue,” he wrote.

Although there is no allotted deadline for the crossing to open, Karayiannis told the Mail he had no new information on the situation and had not been contacted by the UN

On Wednesday, the European Commission amended the Green Line Regulation concerning the movement of goods and persons across the buffer zone to add Dherynia and Lefka-Apliki to the list of authorised crossings

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