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Media Watch 2003

08 May 2003
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Alexia Saoulli
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 8 May 2003
Government says foreigners not allowed overnight stays in the north

THE GOVERNMENT is not allowing foreigners to remain in the occupied areas beyond midnight, government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said yesterday, even though Greek Cypriots are able to take advantage of an easing in restrictions allowing them to stay over for three nights – in a hotel.

The Turkish Cypriots, for their part, would be happy to have foreigners staying over for as long as they want and with no conditions – unlike Greek Cypriots who have to present hotel receipts on their return. Serdar Denktash’s media consultant, Tom Roche, said yesterday that although the Turkish Cypriot regime only allowed Greek Cypriots to spend three nights at a hotel in the occupied areas, “British visitors, and other foreigners coming from the south may spend as many nights as they wish in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”.

Roche added that – unlike for Greek Cypriots – he was “fairly certain there would be no requirement for foreigners to produce any hotel receipts on their return”.

The Turkish Cypriots have always wanted to have foreigners staying over, but – until the checkpoints were opened to all two weeks ago – the government insisted they return by 4.30pm.

The government spokesman said yesterday that foreigners crossing the Green Line could now stay until midnight, but could not remain overnight. He said the difference lay in that Cypriot citizens could not be bound by any restrictions on free movement to any part of the island, whereas tourists were only here on a visitors’ basis.

“This is our country. That is the difference,” said Chrysostomides. “Cypriot citizens have no restrictions of where to go and stay. It is only illegal for them to stay in hotels that belong to Greek Cypriots. They can stay in their cars, with friends or on the beach,” he said.

Overnight stays in the occupied areas, either in hotels or other resorts, are illegal as they are not owned, controlled and managed by their legal (Greek Cypriot) owners, explained Chrysostomides. Anyone choosing to remain overnight was therefore subject to the laws of the Republic concerning the conscious use of stolen property, he said.

In a sense, it could be suggested the government was protecting foreigners from illegally staying in Greek Cypriot properties: “Yes that’s part of it, (although) the general regulation difference offers no explanation,” said Chrysostomides.

Although returning Greek Cypriots do not undergo scrutiny over where they stayed in the occupied areas, the government has made it clear it condemns staying at hotels owned by Greek Cypriots, and has said that owners are free to seek legal compensation.

In the past, foreigners had to return from day trips to the north by 4.30pm. This has now been extended to midnight, when the three Green Line checkpoints close, said Chrysostomides."