Two new crossing points open in Cyprus

Two new crossing points opened in Cyprus on Monday, divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied the island’s northern third.

The checkpoints of Dherynia, just a few kilometres from occupied Famagusta and Apliki-Lefka opened to hundreds of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots who immediately started the trek along the divide.

The Apliki-Lefka checkpoint opened amid enthusiasm from both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. The latter greeted Greek Cypriots with citrus fruit and olive saplings.

Road works at Apliki-Lefka are still pending and will be completed in the next four months.

Lefka, a large mixed village in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus, is 52 km west of the capital Nicosia. Nestled between mountains and sea, it connects with Karavostasi village (4km) and Xeros (around 4.5km), in the south with Apliki village and south-easterly with Skouriotisa.

At Dherynia, which borders the town of Famagusta, the feelings were mixed.

Dherynia mayor Andros Karayiannis, visibly moved, said for years he had worked for the opening of the checkpoint. He was greeted by mayor of Famagusta and Turkish Cypriots gave both olive saplings which Karayiannis promised to plant close to the checkpoint.

Tens of cars awaited at both sides of the divide to make the crossing while Greek Cypriots who oppose the opening of checkpoints demonstrated.

Dherynia, in the east of Cyprus, is only two kilometres away from the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta. The crossing point, located at Famagusta Avenue, leads straight into Turkish occupied Famagusta town. However, residents of the Famagusta district in the government controlled areas had to travel through the Vrysoules checkpoint and go all the way round, making a 40 minute journey to enter the town.

Greek Cypriot head of the bicommunal Technical Committee on Crossing Points, Sotos Zackheos told CNA everything that was agreed for the opening of both checkpoints has been implemented.

He also said that the opening of Dherynia checkpoint will not affect the work carried out by the Committee for Missing Persons.

With the opening of the two checkpoints, he said, the total number of checkpoints is nine.

He said on Tuesday a meeting will take place. Our side will continue to table the need to open the Aglantzia � Piroi crossing as well as finding ways to overcome the isolation faced by the residents of Pyrgos Tilliria who are cut off for so many years now.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The latest round of UN-peace talks last year at the Swiss resort of Crans – Montana ended without an agreement. Talks held under the auspices of the UN aim at reunifying Cyprus under a federal roof.

Source: Cyprus News Agency