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Inspectors blocked from visiting schools in Rizokarpaso

Classroom inside the Rizokarpaso school
File photo: a classroom inside the Rizokarpaso school

The foreign ministry is addressing an issue that arose when inspectors from the ministry were not allowed to visit schools in Rizokarpaso, blocked by the north’s ‘foreign minister’ Tahsin Ertugruloglu.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Education Minister Athena Michaelidou said, “We have been aware of the issue for some time now, and any officer [of the ministry] is being blocked from going to the occupied areas.”

She added that anyone involved in evaluating or training the teachers is being blocked, causing problems. The issue is being handled by the foreign ministry, she said.

It was earlier revealed that inspectors were being blocked from going to the north since June, stemming from a decision by Ertugruloglu.

Teachers have been going to their jobs as usual, but ‘authorities’ have been blocking any education ministry official from visiting the Greek Cypriot schools, which are under their jurisdiction.

According to the daily Politis, the blocking of ministry officials arises from time to time, but this is the first time that inspectors of both secondary and primary education have had to repeatedly deal with this issue.

Officials from both the ministry and the bicommunal technical committee on education have said that because this issue arises sometimes, they work together with Unficyp and the foreign ministry to deal with the matter.

In Rizokarpaso, there is a Greek Cypriot nursery, primary, and gymnasium. Information provided to the daily suggests that the goal of blocking the ministry officials from visiting the schools is to cut them off from the Republic of Cyprus and for the north to take them under their control.

According to the report, the issue behind the recent block to ministry officials is the north’s ‘foreign minister,’ who has been straining relations between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

He is reportedly said to have given the order to police in the north to block education ministry officials from visiting the schools.

Ertugruloglu was most recently behind the stoppage of works in Pyla, after both sides had reached a common understanding with Unficyp about a road the Turkish Cypriot side wanted to build to Arsos from the village.

The common understanding stipulated that the Greek Cypriot side would then be given plots north of the village to develop into residential property.

However, a few weeks after the works started, the ‘minister’ went on a tirade, claiming that the Greek Cypriot side was violating the understanding. He echoed those sentiments on Wednesday as well, accusing the Greek Cypriot side of “using its recognized status as a weapon against the Turkish Cypriots.”

Ertugruloglu also accused the UN and the five permanent members of the security council of having caused the Cyprus problem. He implied that the dissolution of the 1960 partnership between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots was detrimental to the latter. He argued that the Turkish Cypriots were satisfied with the initial partnership, but the breakup led to a situation where “he who killed was rewarded, he who was killed is still blamed.”

He added that both the UN and the EU have adopted policies that are averse to the Turkish Cypriots. On Pyla, he said that the UN failed and that they had consistently been blocked by the UN from building the road for years.

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