If socialist Edek truly wants to help Dherynia, it ought to arrange for a meeting at the town hall to learn about the problems it’s facing instead of organising a protest against the opening of the crossing, Mayor Andros Karayiannis said on Tuesday.
The move by Edek to distribute flyers to all Dherynia homes inviting everyone to a protest on Thursday against the opening of the crossing, has upset many residents, the mayor said.
Speaking to Politis radio, Karayiannis said that Edek, which has organised, like other parties, an event to mark the invasion anniversary of July 20, 1974 at the Famagusta municipality’s cultural centre in Dherynia, has also decided to stage the same day a protest against the opening of the crossing, which had been agreed on by the two leaders as part of confidence building measures.
The main speaker at the protest will be Edek leader, Marinos Sizopoulos. The party said that the protest was the culmination of a series of actions that began about a year ago, “analysing the dangers of opening the Dherynia crossing” for local businesses.
The aim, Edek said in its flyer, was to convince the government to change its stance and to not proceed with the opening of the crossing as it feels, “it will have serious economic and political repercussions” both for the Republic of Cyprus and for the residents.
The party said that around 10,000 tourists cross to the occupied part of Famagusta through the crossing in Strovilia. “This, results in losing around half a million euros daily. The opening of the [Dherynia] crossing will double these numbers,” the flyer said.
It also said that “due to the low cost and the absence of taxation in the occupied areas, unfair competition will increase to the detriment of professionals in the free areas.”
The increase in the tourist current will also facilitate the gradual development of the beach of the occupied town of Famagusta, the party said.
“Such a development will be the last nail in the coffin to a possible return of the closed-off area to its residents,” Edek said.
But Karayiannis argues that if Edek truly wanted to help the local community, “instead of distributing flyers, it could come to the town hall, just like other parties, to listen to the problems of the municipality that stem from the loss of 75 per cent of its territory and 2.5 km of our beach.”
He added that these problems include youth unemployment and the housing, but also needy families to which the municipality offers daily support.
“We live on 25 per cent of our land, we are suffocating, the people of Dherynia do not have the luxury of building hotels and earning proceeds from beaches and we are struggling to keep our youth and families in Dherynia,” Karayiannis said.
If some want to protect tourism, he said, and keep tourists from crossing to the north, then they could ask tour operators not bring any tourists in Cyprus, as they cross to the occupied areas.
He added that the same people could ask hotels in Ayia Napa not to advertise day trips to Famagusta in the north.
Karayiannis said that the Dherynia municipal council has been bullied over the past three years and have been the victims of hate speech following the government decision to open the Dherynia crossing.
He called on President Nicos Anastasiades, to “promptly implement” the political decision that stipulates that crossings will be promoted as confidence building measures.
“Dherynia sees the opening of the crossing as another opportunity for the two communities to come closer,” he said. As the crossing was to be opened by July 1, he said – as per the announcement of Anastasiades following his meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci last April – many people drive daily to the area thinking that they could cross to the north through there.
Karayiannis said that the Greek Cypriot side appears to be ready for the opening of the crossing, but that there is an obstacle in the north concerning moving an outpost of the Turkish military on the road to Famagusta.
The protest follows a declaration last week of around 200 refugees from Famagusta, including former state officials, expressing their opposition to the opening of the crossing because they said it would not contribute to efforts for their return to their properties but turn them instead into tourists in their own town.
Famagusta mayor, Alexis Galanos, also expressed reservations last month. Before that, 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.