Greek-Turkish Cypriot communities to reopen dividing line crossing points

The Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities of Cyprus on Thursday decided to gradually reopen crossing points on the so-called Green Line dividing the eastern Mediterranean island into Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot zones, starting on June 8 with check points used by vehicles, government spokesman Kyriakos Kousios said in a written statement.

The Cypriot government on Feb. 28 closed four of the nine crossing points with the aim of providing better staffing at other crossing points to carry out checks for possible COVID-19 cases crossing to either side. The Turkish Cypriot side closed down all crossing points on April 11.

Kousios said that President Nicos Anastasiades called Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci earlier on Thursday, telling him that the government had decided to gradually lift restrictions on movement through the crossing points.

“The men exchanged views and arrived at a mutual understanding to allow passage from crossing points for motor vehicles initially, starting on June 8,” Kousios said.

The Cyprus island has been divided along ethnic lines since 1974 when Turkey intervened militarily following a coup by Athens-backed Greek Cypriots.

“The Cyprus government will regularly conduct random checks on people who pass through crossing points,” the statement noted.

It added that Anastasiades and Akinci also agreed to convene as soon as possible a meeting of the bi-communal Technical Committee on Health, to exchange views about the gradual lifting of restrictions at crossing points, depending on the epidemiological situation.

Turkish Cypriots have not announced any new COVID-19 cases since April 19, while the Cypriot Health Ministry has been announcing one or two new coronavirus cases daily for the past 10 days.