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Media Watch 2003

07 May 2003
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: George Psyllides
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 7 May 2003
Minister slams Greek Cypriots in overnight hotel stays

TRADE Industry and Tourism Minister George Lillikas yesterday slammed Greek Cypriots going to the occupied north for tourism and recreation.

He was attending a House Trade Committee meeting during which deputies unanimously condemned those who stayed at hotels and visited casinos and brothels in the north.

“It is unacceptable for Greek Cypriots to have vacations in our occupied land; I think it is unacceptable in a semi-occupied country fighting for reunification, that some of our compatriots, to serve their selfish needs, wipe out the benefit of the society and the benefit of their country,” Lillikas said.

Lillikas said the government would not impose limitations on the movement to the north, stressing that how to behave was up to each person’s conscience.

The minister reiterated that the decision by the Turkish Cypriot breakaway state to lift restrictions in movement was not the solution of the Cyprus problem.

In a message addressed to the Turkish Cypriots, Lillikas said that through a solution they too could benefit from European Union accession and enjoy all its advantages together with the Greek Cypriots.

The minister said around 212,811 Greek Cypriots had crossed the checkpoint, including 39,381 cars.

Concerning the overnight stays, Lillikas repeated the government’s opposition since day one, adding however that the figures had been exaggerated.

Only a few dozens had stayed, and not several thousands as the Turkish Cypriots claimed, Lillikas said.

On Monday, the government said it would get the names of all who had stayed over and despite being unable to prosecute them, it would support any Greek Cypriot owner of a hotel in the north wishing to file civil suits against them for illegal entry.

The minister said the Cyprus Tourism Organisation was preparing a leaflet to inform visitors of the potential problems involved in staying in the north.

At the same time, Lillikas said hoteliers and tour operators were satisfied with the government’s actions so far, but have asked for more measures to dissuade foreign tour operators from including the north in their holiday programmes. Foreigners are not allowed to stay overnight in the north."