Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on Wednesday took a swipe at the ‘government’ in the north for dragging their feet over reopening the crossing points by saying any discussion over who has the authority was unnecessary.
Akinci said that the bi-communal Health Technical Committee on Health that had a teleconference earlier this week, had a useful discussion on epidemiological data and concluded that the pandemic was under control on both sides.
He pointed out however that, while the Greek Cypriot side had submitted its epidemiological data in a comprehensive report, the Turkish Cypriot side had not.
Akinci said that despite his office’s persistent requests to the ‘health ministry’ for the report containing the data on the north, it has yet to be sent.
He added that the conclusion of this report as soon as possible was essential for expanding the scope of the crossings which can be reopened.
Akinci and President Nicos Anastasiades announced some two weeks ago that from June 8 Turkish Cypriots working, studying or undergoing treatment in the south and the enclaved and Maronites who reside permanently in the north would be allowed to use the crossings.
But the Turkish Cypriot ‘government’ had said they were the ones to decide with some officials stating that for such a thing to happen, there must be at least 14 days of no coronavirus cases in the south to match the situation in the north where no new cases have been announced for weeks.
Akinci said he finds the discussion on who has the authority to open the crossings unnecessary and out of place. “Since the beginning, I’ve been saying that health should be the primary factor that determines both internal regulations as well as the issue of checkpoints and politics should follow.”
He added that the Greek Cypriot side, as regards the initial opening of crossings on June 8, stated that they would eliminate the 14-day quarantine requirement, ask for a test done in the last 72 hours and then run random tests.
“Our health officials should now determine what kind of regulation they envisaged as soon as possible and complete their preparations to take necessary measures on the crossing points,” Akinci said.
Member of the advisory committee on coronavirus Leontios Kostrikis said on Wednesday that during Monday’s teleconference they did not receive much information from the Turkish Cypriot side.
He told Sigma TV that the Turkish Cypriot experts said they would submit the report when it is ready.
He said he feels that the Turkish Cypriot side believes they are in a better situation than the south as regards coronavirus and are hesitant over reopening the crossings.
He said that they even told the Greek Cypriot side off for deciding to allow visitors from Germany.
“They have an air of arrogance on this issue,” Kostrikis said. He added that both sides agreed to meet again soon to discuss the issue of crossings.
He added that experts told them after persistent questions, that they carried out around 6,000 tests in the north among a population of 360,000. This means, he said, that five times less sampling took place there than in the government-controlled areas.
“If we had done five times less tests, then we too would have had zero cases,” he said.
Kostrikis believes that Turkish Cypriot experts were keeping mum on political instructions.
He added that during their next meeting, the Greek Cypriot side will insist on hearing about their plans as regards Turkey because it is also a transit place for those arriving to the north.
The issue of the many foreign students from Sub-Saharan Africa and Iran studying in the north is also of concern, he said.