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Coronavirus: Akel calls for ‘normalisation’ at crossing points

Closed crossing at Ledra Street (Photo: Christos Theodorides)

Main opposition party Akel on Wednesday called for normalisation of the situation at crossing points, citing contradictions and paradoxical measures from both sides as regards crossings.

In a message to mark one year since the first restrictive measures were imposed at crossing points due to the pandemic, Akel said that the gradual normalisation of crossings “is imperative.”

Akel proposes that in the coming period gradual measures be implemented to normalise crossings through the competent bicommunal technical committees mainly those on health and crossing points.

“The rapid test procedure and vaccinations can be key tools in these transitional stages,” the party said. It also called for further facilities for bicommunal meetings in places in the buffer zone.

Akel said that during this past year, using the  pandemic as an excuse, “we have seen a series of contradictory and paradoxical measures taken by both sides in relation to the crossings.”

In fact, it added, these were not done in the context of consultation and cooperation, something that is noted in the last report of the UN Secretary General to the Security Council. Akel pointed out, however, that at the moment it is the Turkish Cypriot side that has the strictest “and unnecessary restrictions on crossings.”

The government announced in late February 2020 it was temporarily closing four crossings to the north. President Nicos Anastasiades had said at the time  there was “no other choice” but to close crossing points to try and pre-empt a potential spread of the coronavirus.

The move stirred strong reactions and protests as the government faced a fierce backlash and protests over the move.  Soon after the Turkish Cypriot side also announced restrictions on crossings, with both sides since taking decisions on the issue, without coordination.

“The opening of the crossing points in 2003 was the greatest proof that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can coexist and build their common future together,” Akel said. This earned right, it said, “is one of the greatest achievements of the Cypriot people in the process of the reunification of Cyprus and its people.”

The party, that receives suggestions from various social organisations on the matter, said it was ready to contribute with further ideas and proposals. In this regard, it said, Akel’s rapprochement office organised a bi-communal internet seminar earlier this week in which dozens of organisations from both communities participated to exchange views on the issue.

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