Cyprus Mail

Famagusta mayor uneasy over Dherynia opening

The road leading to the Dherynia crossing point

Famagusta mayor Alexis Galanos expressed reservations on Monday over the opening of a crossing point in Dherynia which would link the area with northern Cyprus.

Speaking at a news conference, Galanos said he wanted to convey the concerns of Famagusta refugees over whether “there should be a postponement of the crossing point’s opening”.

“I have my reservations,” he said when asked about the potential benefits or drawbacks.

“It depends how the Turkish side approaches it. It certainly helps if the Turkish side approaches it as a step that leads to the opening of the closed-off town of Famagusta (Varosha), to bring the two people closer.”

However, he said, if the Turkish side views it as a way to gain tourism and gradually settle the closed-off parts, it is an extension of the occupation.

“I don’t consider it a coincidence that at a time when the Dherynia crossing will be opening, they are preparing to open a beach at Ayios Memnonas. It is not a good will gesture,” Galanos said.

Opening a crossing point in Dherynia, and one in the Lefka area had been decided by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and President Nicos Anastasiades at the onset of reunification negotiations between them in 2015.

Significant work has been done in the area but the projects have not been completed. Last month, Greek and Turkish Cypriots demonstrated at Dherynia demanding it be opened to boost confidence and cooperation between the two communities.

Relations between the two sides have been strained since the talks between the two leaders collapsed at Crans-Montana in Switzerland last July.

In the meantime, in a decision described by pro-reunification activists as discriminatory and racist, Turkish Cypriots last year decided to open a beach near Dherynia but allow access only to Turkish nationals and Turkish Cypriots.

Galanos said such unilateral acts did not help the effort to find a solution.

In the past, Famagusta business circles and the mayor of Ayia Napa had openly voiced their opposition to the crossing, expressing concern that it would hurt business in the south.

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