Open door to Turkish Cypriots

The Cypriot government will soon unveil measures aimed at improving living standards among Turkish Cypriots, officials said yesterday. Kypros Chrysostomides, goverment spokesman, said that the government was taking the views of the Turkish Cypriots and the EU into consideration. Nicosia, he said, would announce measures in the first 10 days of May while the EU would do so at the end of that month. «These measures are the start of the new policy we plan to implement toward the Turkish Cypriots… I hope we will announce them at the beginning of May,» yesterday’s edition of the liberal Turkish Radikal daily quoted Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou as saying. Cyprus will join the EU on May 1, 2004. As long as it remains divided, Turkish Cypriots will not enjoy the benefits of membership. Iacovou said some of the measures envisaged would allow Turkish Cypriots to benefit from health services in the south, obtain Cypriot passports and trade with the south, the Agence France-Presse quoted him telling Radikal. «There will be no restrictions on Turkish Cypriots working in the free areas of Cyprus. Some measures aim to improve the economic standards of Turkish Cypriots,» he said. «Our desire is not only for the two existing crossing points to stay open, but to open up to five new crossing points,» Iacovou said. «We want peace and we want Turkish Cypriots to benefit from all the advantages of EU membership… We have until May 2004, let us not waste time,» he said. Serdar Denktash, a Turkish-Cypriot official, told The Associated Press that borders could be opened as early as tomorrow. «You can call this a test period. We will see if the two sides can live together,» he said. EU foreign ministers are to meet on the Greek island of Kastellorizo on May 2-4. Foreign Minister George Papandreou proposed to his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul, that the ministers visit Kas in Turkey for lunch. Asked what would happen if the Greek-Cypriot delegation attended, Gul told the Turkish daily Milliyet on Sunday: «What will we say? If we say he should not come to Kas, then we have to give up EU membership. As this can’t be the case, we have to overcome these issues.»