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Greek Cypriots and Maronites ‘in no way confined’ Turkish Cypriot side says

File photo of Unficyp soldiers delivering food to Greek Cypriots in Karpasia

Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north “are in no way confined to or besieged in the areas where they reside” the Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign ministry’ has said.

The comments came after Turkish Cypriot authorities said last week they would start charging customs duties on goods carried by the UN to Greek Cypriots there.

The decision, which will be enforced as of October 1, caused a storm on the Greek Cypriot side, and the UN said it was “unfortunate”.

Foreign minister’ of the breakaway state, Tahsin Ertugruloglu, said that following the collapse of the talks in Crans-Montana in July, Cyprus’ history had “entered a new phase” in which the UN would not be able to operate as before.

He said the transport of certain goods to the enclaved was not needed because they could obtain everything they needed and because the crossings now meant they were no longer enclaved. The first crossing opened in 2003.

On Sunday, in a written statement, the ‘foreign ministry’ said the Greek Cypriots and Maronites who had chosen to reside in the north of the Island after 1974 do so without issue today.

Both carry out their religious services and Greek Cypriots are able to receive education at their own schools, it said.

“Just as the Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in our country possess the right of free movement within the TRNC, they are also able to cross without any hindrance to the South,” it added.

Their relatives and friends could also cross to see them without hindrance “as often as and whenever they please”.

“Furthermore, they are also able to benefit from all health, municipal, etc., services that are afforded to TRNC citizens.”

The statement suggested the Greek Cypriot leadership was making the enclaved a constant subject of political exploitation. As for the goods they were being given in the name of humanitarian aid, “it has been long determined that the Greek Cypriot and Maronite recipients have in fact been selling these items that they clearly don’t need to the Turkish Cypriots”, the statement added.

As of October 1, it said, if the Greek Cypriot administration insists on continuing to send the said items to Greek Cypriots and Maronites living the items would be made subject to customs duty. Medical aid supplies will be exempt.

It added that for some time now, various meetings had taken place at all levels with the United Nations on the matter.

The UN said the decision was unfortunate and hoped a mutual arrangement suitable to all could be found.

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

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