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Akinci calls for clarity over checkpoint openings

Former Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on Saturday called on the ‘government’ in the north to clarify their position on opening checkpoints, which the Greek Cypriot side has said are ready to operate for certain groups as of Monday.

He said the ‘government’, led by ‘Prime Minister’ Ersin Tatar and ‘Deputy Prime Minister’ Kudret Ozersay, need to convene the health committee in the north to clarify the situation with the checkpoints, as the public is unsure of what is going on.

Ozersay said on Friday night the checkpoints would essentially not open for crossing this coming week as had been agreed between President Nicos Anastasiades and Akinci.

He said Turkish Cypriots working in the state-controlled areas wishing to return to their jobs would be given PCR tests and be allowed to cross under the condition they would remain in the state-controlled areas following their crossing.

According to Ozersay, the concern for the Turkish Cypriot side is the state-controlled areas will open the airports on Tuesday, opening Cyprus up to tourists.

He said the ‘government’ decided to wait and see the results of this opening to evaluate opening crossings.

However, Akinci said on Saturday, the bicommunal health committee had indicated the epidemiological data on both sides was similar and positive enough to allow the workers to cross.

In a statement on Saturday, the workers also accused Ozersay of making “inconsistent” statements on whether they are allowed to cross or not, leading them to “lose patience”.

They said: “If he [Ozersay] does not represent the government, and is representing other interests, then he must resign.”

On Friday Government Spokesman Kyriacos Kousios said the government will be ready to reopen crossing points for vehicles from Monday as per the agreement between the two leaders.

The statement follows an announcement last month that Anastasiades and Akinci had agreed that crossings would be allowed by car as of June 8 for some groups of people.

Commenting on the lack of confirmation by the north on allowing these group of people to cross, Kousios said the government was ready to reopen those crossings. “We cannot do anything else at this point, we do not want to intervene in political disputes in the occupied areas.”

The transport ministry on Friday announced that from Monday, crossings would be allowed to and from the government-controlled areas for Turkish Cypriots working, studying or receiving treatment in the south of the island, and also for the enclaved and Maronites living permanently in the north.

Though it was not initially announced, the list also includes Greek Cypriots living permanently in Kato Pyrgos in the Tylliria region but who work in Nicosia. The ministry said that crossings would also be allowed for humanitarian reasons and after permission from the interior minister.

The transport ministry said that anyone from these groups who wanted to cross between the two sides would have to present a coronavirus test certificate no older than 72 hours when they cross for the first time.

However, one Turkish Cypriot woman, Cise Sezerel who is in a relationship with someone in the state-controlled areas, wrote an open letter to Akinci in the daily Kibris Postasi, saying it was not fair for people in relationships or with loved ones on the other side to be considered ‘tourists,’ when it came to crossing.

During her separation from her partner, Sezerel added, she has discovered dozens of people in the same situation.

She wrote these people should be allowed to cross if they are willing to get a test.

“It is a human right,” she said, after being forced to meet and communicate with her boyfriend through fences at Paphos gate.

She said by not allowing people to cross to see their loved ones, both sides of the divide were “discriminating”.

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