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Turkish Cypriots to charge fees on aid to Greek Cypriots in north (updated)

In what the UN described as an “unfortunate” move, Turkish Cypriot authorities said they will start charging customs duties on goods carried by the United Nations to Greek Cypriots living in the north.

Speaking to AFP in New York, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the ‘foreign minister’ of the Turkish Cypriot breakaway state, Tahsin Ertugruloglu, said he would inform UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix of the plan on Saturday “as a sign of goodwill.”

“The decision will be enforced as of October 1.”

Ertugruloglu said the recent collapse of the talks was the “proven failure” of a 50-year effort to create a federation, warning that Cyprus’ history has entered a new phase in which the UN will not be able to operate as before.

The UN peacekeeping force that has been deployed between the two communities since 1964 will have to learn to work with a more assertive Turkish Cypriot administration, he said.

Ertugruloglu cited the example of the goods the government sends to Greek Cypriots living in the north, in shipments carried on UN truck convoys.

“We keep telling them that that’s not necessary,” he said.”First of all, these people don’t need these supplies and they sell them to the Turkish Cypriots. But more importantly, the border crossings are free.

“The UN convoys are not going to be allowed to carry these things because it gives the impression that these people are enclaved in occupied territory.

“And if they continue to take these supplies up to the north, then we’re going to have to charge customs duty that the Greek Cypriots will be forced to pay.”

The UN said the decision was unfortunate, noting that delivering humanitarian assistance was based on a broad, longstanding agreement between the sides known as Vienna III.

This role, Unficyp said, “together with deliveries made to Maronite communities in the north, has been welcomed by the Security Council in previous resolutions and provide hundreds of elderly and other vulnerable persons with basic supplies.”

“This unilateral announcement at this time is unfortunate and we hope that a mutual arrangement suitable to all can be found,” Unficyp said.

Finance Minister Harris Georgiades said the action would constitute the worst kind of political exploitation, noting that the matter of the enclaved is a humanitarian one.

“If this takes place it would be yet another indication of the very negative stance of the occupying authorities;  it offers no political advantage but rather aggravates the already hard life of our enclaved,” he added.

Georgiades said the government “will monitor events and if such an action is implemented there will be a reaction within the framework of our political capabilities.”

At the end of the second phase of the Turkish invasion late in August 1974, about 20,000 Greek and Maronite Cypriots living in villages and townships primarily in the Karpass Peninsula of northeast Cyprus and in villages west of the city of Kyrenia remained behind the ceasefire line.

Only 437 (April 2013) people remain, 328 Greek Cypriots and 109 Maronite Cypriots. These persons are known as the “enclaved”.

On August 2, 1975, at the conclusion of UN-sponsored intercommunal talks, the leaders of the Greek and the Turkish Cypriot communities reached an agreement known as the Third Vienna Agreement, addressing important humanitarian aspects affecting the lives of the enclaved.

The agreement provided that Greek Cypriots in the north of the island were free to stay. They were to be given every help to lead a normal life, including facilities for education and practising religion, as well as medical care by their own doctors.

They were entitled to free movement in the north of Cyprus.

The agreement also provided that Greek Cypriots residing in the north of Cyprus, who at their own request and without having been subjected to any kind of pressure, wished to move to the government-controlled area of Cyprus would be allowed to do so.

The UN Peacekeeping Force would have free and normal access to Greek Cypriot villages in the north.

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