The Turkish Cypriot side has completed its end of the works related to the Dherynia crossing earlier than expected, reports said on Sunday, quoting Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.
The next phase before opening the crossing point in the Famagusta district, Akinci said would be the calling of tenders by the UN to do the work necessary to link up the road on each side.
The agreement to open the crossing point was made between Akinci and President Nicos Anastasiades in May last year but initially ran into trouble.
The Greek Cypriot side wanted to use the existing road to Varosha but the Turkish side cited security issues, and wanted a new road built away from a Turkish army outpost.
The Greek Cypriots countered that would take longer, cost more money and possibly require appropriations of private land. By contrast, the old road going straight to Famagusta would simply need a fresh layer of asphalt and possible widening.
Another concern of the Turkish Cypriots was that the area might become a shrine to Greek Cypriots Tassos Isaac and Solomos Solomou, both murdered near the old road in 1996 after anti-occupation demos.
After months of wrangling, a deal was reached in October whereby it was decided to use the old road and move the army outpost.
There is no fixed timetable opening the crossing. At present, residents in Dherynia and surrounding areas have to travel 17 kilometres to the nearest open crossing at Strovilia.
If the Dherynia crossing point opened the distance would be cut to 800 metres.
The opening of two new crossings – one in Dherynia, in the east, and one in Lefka in the west – was decided by the leaders of the two communities on May 28, as part of confidence-building measures, parallel to the core reunification talks. The leaders also cited a number of other proposed crossing points. There are seven crossing points currently in place and operational.