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North to announce ‘reasonable’ policy on ‘aid tax’

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

Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign minister’ Kudret Ozersay announced on Wednesday that authorities in the north will soon make an announcement concerning the ‘customs duty’ imposed on government goods sent to Greek Cypriots and Maronites living there.

In a tweet, Ozersay said that the Turkish Cypriot side has been working on this issue for quite some time now and that consultations have intensified over the past week.

Ozersay said that, towards that end, he would visit Maronite villages on Thursday and Rizokarpaso where enclaved Greek Cypriots live, soon afterwards.

He said when he assumed his duties as ‘minister’ in February he announced he would define a policy on the ‘customs duty’ from the south that was “reasonable, contemporary and which would raise the status of the ‘TRNC’” but which would not eliminate the rights of the Turkish Cypriot community.

“We have been working on this issue for quite some time, and we have intensified our efforts the past week,” Ozersay said in his tweet.

Weekly deliveries of basic items to cover household needs sent by the government to around 340 people living in the Karpasia peninsula and the Maronite villages of Kormakitis and Karpashia were interrupted last October after the Turkish Cypriot authorities announced they would tax the aid. Since then, the UN is only delivering medical supplies that are exempt from the duty.

The UN said at the time that 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.

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