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Green Line crossings surge, trade growth remains hindered

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File photo: Ayios Dhometios checkpoint

The European Commission’s annual report on the implementation of the Green Line Regulation found that trade was up by 138 per cent and almost six million crossings took place.

The report detailed that while there was a substantial increase in crossings, mainly due to lifting of the pandemic restrictions, numbers remained somewhat less than recorded in 2019.

It also emphasised that obstacles to boosting trade remain, hampering further economic growth and links between the two communities.

There’s a lot of numbers in the report, but they tell an interesting story.

Indeed, the police detailed that 1,372,564 crossings (previously 695,702) by Greek Cypriots and 871,898 crossings (previously 233,950) by Greek Cypriot vehicles were recorded from the Republic into the north.

In the same period – from January 1 to December 2022 – there were 1,111,529 crossings (previously 513,291) by Turkish Cypriots and 453,880 crossings (previously 423,846) by Turkish Cypriot vehicles.

The report added that the police figures mentioned above do not include data on persons and vehicles crossing from the northern part of Cyprus at the Pergamos and Strovilia crossing points, which are under the authority of the UK Eastern Sovereign Base Area. For these, the ESBA reported that 685,202 crossings (previously 200,625) by Greek Cypriots and 401,301 crossings (previously 119,527) by Greek Cypriot vehicles to the northern part of Cyprus were recorded. At the same time, 546,427 crossings (previously 300,643) by Turkish Cypriots and 326,400 crossings (previously 197,106) by Turkish Cypriot vehicles in the other direction were recorded. Moreover, 841,086 EU citizens (other than Cypriots) and third country nationals crossed the Line in both directions.

The figures gathered by the Turkish Cypriot community in 2022 indicate an increase in the number of crossings by Greek Cypriots to 2,821,903 (previously 1,013,778) and by Greek Cypriot vehicles to 1,517,222 (previously 581,836) from the government-controlled areas to the north.

They also indicate an increase in the number of crossings by Turkish Cypriots to 1,877,463 (previously 893,014) and by Turkish Cypriot vehicles to 881,920 (previously 479,474) in the other direction. According to the statistics provided, 1,840,207 EU citizens (other than Cypriots) and third country nationals crossed from the government-controlled areas to the north (previously 532,243) in 2022.

The increase in crossings was thought to reflect a continuing return to more normal daily life after the pandemic. Moreover, it was reported that the favourable exchange rate of the euro against the Turkish lira encouraged increasing numbers of Greek Cypriots to cross to the Turkish Cypriot community to undertake their personal shopping.

Long queues were reported at the Ayios Dometios crossing point. According to the RoC authorities, additional human resources were deployed with the view to facilitate crossing.

In 2022, the number of Cypol personnel working at the crossing points was 81, compared with 89 in 2021.

As for trade, it cited the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce as saying that the total value of goods for which accompanying documents had been issued amounted to €16,697,514 (previously €6,836,060). Compared with 2021, this is an increase of 144 per cent.

And while the commission welcomed the increase in trade as positive, it reasoned that trade across the Green Line could be increased further.

“The Commission considers that removing the obstacles to trade mentioned in this report would help to increase trade across the Green Line…  Obstacles to trade across the Line continued, which, in the view of the Commission, form a reason for the current limited level of trade. Turkish Cypriot operators share the same view as the Commission,” it said.

This report covers the period 1 January to 31 December 2022.

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