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Media Watch 2003

07 May 2003
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Sofia Kannas
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 7 May 2003
280,000 and counting...

Over 35 per cent of population cross the line in two weeks

MORE than 280,000 people, equivalent to over 35 per cent of Cyprus' total population, have crossed the Green Line since the dramatic Turkish Cypriot announcement lifting the barriers two weeks ago.

Cypriots from both communities have flocked north and south of the divide in the last 14 days, as movement to and from the occupied areas was permitted by the breakaway regime for the first time in almost 30 years.

According to the latest statistics, between April 23, when the first checkpoint opened, and 4pm yesterday, 216,297 Greek Cypriots had crossed over to the north, while 63,885 Turkish Cypriots had made the journey to the free areas.

The population of Cyprus was recorded as 793,100 in 2001, but the figure does not include around 115,000 Turkish settlers estimated to be illegal residents in the occupied north of the island.

The number of people moving north and south over the dividing line yesterday was relatively low. By 4pm, a total of 4,297 Greek Cypriots and 1,560 Turkish Cypriots had crossed the Green Line via the Ledra Palace, Pergamos and Strovilia checkpoints, whereas on Sunday almost 18,000 Greek Cypriots and 8,500 Turkish Cypriots made the crossing.

The large number of Greek Cypriots entering the occupied areas has had a significant economic impact on the less affluent north. It was reported on Monday that around £7 million had flowed into the north since the barriers were lifted, while 'Politis newspaper yesterday claimed the figure was around £15 million.

Estimates also suggest that even if the current movement of Greek Cypriots to the north falls to one third of the present average rate, Greek Cypriot spending in the occupied areas would contribute around £40 million annually to the region.

Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday announced the regime's intention to introduce a "blacklist" of Greek Cypriots to be barred from entering the north, after a meeting with the head of the Turkish Cypriot "police" on Monday. The decision follows an incident in the north on Sunday when a Greek Cypriot man narrowly escaped being lynched during a visit to his village, after Turkish Cypriots accused him of killing ais fellow villager during the 1974 invasion.

" A blacklist must be compiled so that the movement of such people is forbidden,"Denktash told Anatolia news agency yesterday.

Commenting on the news at a press conference yesterday, head of the Delegation of the European Commission to Cyprus, Adrian van der Meer, called on the Turkish Cypriot authorities "to apply the policy of the rule of law.".

Asked for the government's response, spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said: "There is no comment other than that this is a measure taken by the occupation regime." He dismissed reports that the government planned to compile its own blacklist of Greek Cypriots who had stayed overnight in hotels owned by Greek Cypriots and taken over by Turkish Cypriots after 1974. "In a democracy we do not have blacklists," he said."