Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots are ready for the opening of the Derynia checkpoint, in the East of Cyprus, which is only two kilometres away from the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta.
During a visit to the checkpoint by representatives of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political parties under the auspices of the Slovak Embassy in Nicosia, it was revealed that work for the crossing point is almost ready on both sides, however work within the UN-controlled buffer zone remains to be done.
In the occupied northern part of Cyprus, the road is ready but what is pending is the supply of electricity and the installation of telephone lines at the checkpoint offices.
In the southern government controlled areas, pavements along Famagusta Avenue which leads to the crossing point have been constructed but the road has to be asphalted and prefabricated offices to be installed. This can be done in two weeks, workers said.
Welcoming the politicians, journalists from both sides as well as local citizens, Antros Karagiannis, Mayor of Derynia thanked Ambassador of the Slovak Republic Dr. Oksana Tomova for the initiative.
Speaking on behalf of the representatives of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political parties, Tomova thanked them for their positive approach and readiness and cooperation, adding that the visit by the representatives of the political parties which participate in the bicommunal dialogue under the auspices of the Slovak Embassy at the Ledra Palace hotel in Nicosia, promotes their effort to support cooperation, confidence building and peace co-existence between the two communities in Cyprus.
She said the decision to visit the two crossing points in Derynia and next week in Lefka also has another dimension. It is a good opportunity to meet local Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and to exchange views on their daily problems and positive impact on future developments in the area when the crossing points will be opened, she noted.
She said the opening of the crossing points remains one of the most important confidence building measures agreed by the leaders of the two communities and the political parties will send their messages to the public in this regard.
Tomova expressed appreciation and acknowledgment of the hard work of those who are actively involved in the process to allow the opening of the crossing points as soon as possible.
She commended the representatives of UNFICYP, UNDP, EC, the Technical Committee on Crossing Points as well as the local municipality, particularly Derynia Mayor for their help and outstanding contribution to the process.
Christakis Nikitas, of the group Famagusta our Town said we are not political parties, we are civilians, noting that he and Okan Dagli from the Famagusta Initiative both come from Famagusta. We are cooperating and supporting the negotiations and a solution of the problem in Cyprus and we are here to show our interest, he said and thanked the mayor and the Ambassador of Slovakia.
Dagli said the road has opened but this is a very great disappointment for us, as in fact it is not yet open. Construction has been going on for the past two years but nothing has happened in the buffer zone and it will take much longer to finish this checkpoint, he added. He called for the opening of the checkpoint as soon as possible.
Derynia Mayor Karagiannis told CNA that both sides will gain financially from the opening of the crossing point. There will be commercial activity, people will come closer, they will get to know each other and communication and contact will improve. It will be the first step for the return of the fenced off area of Famagusta and a solution to the Cyprus problem.
Member of the Famagusta Initiative Halil Onbashi, born in Mouttalos of Paphos district, told CNA, we need peace and cooperation between the two sides, we need to create positive atmosphere because we are all Cypriots and this road is the road to peace. We have to open this.
He said that since 1974, he has moved to Famagusta and lives only two minutes away from the crossing point. However he had to travel through the Vrysoules checkpoint and go all the way round, making a 40 minute journey to attend the event at Famagusta Avenue, just down the road from his house.
Famagusta Avenue once connected the villages in the Famagusta district to the city of Famagusta, a well known tourist resort before the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of the islands northern third.
UN-led peace talks are currently underway to find a negotiated settlement that would reunite Cyprus.
Source: Cyprus News Agency