Cyprus opens road for trade

The Cypriot government is to begin issuing permits to allow passage of commercial goods from the Turkish-occupied north of the island across the Green Line that has divided the republic since 1974. This move comes after the Cypriot Parliament passed a law on Thursday to encourage trade between the two communities. Turkish-Cypriot trucks will henceforth be allowed into the south on presentation of special permits. Government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said yesterday that the law will be applied in a manner that meets the main goal of the measures, which is to facilitate the movement of goods. He said that the drivers or other workers on the trucks need not necessarily be Turkish Cypriots themselves, indicating that settlers from the Turkish mainland would be allowed in. Farm produce will be subjected to inspections to protect consumers and should be accompanied by a certificate of origin from the relevant Turkish-Cypriot chamber. However, Chrysostomides made a distinction between farm produce and the tourism industry. The government is still opposed to Greek Cypriots staying overnight in hotels in the Turkish-occupied sector. Meanwhile the European Commission’s package of measures designed to promote economic development and European integration in the northern part of Cyprus is expected to begin unofficially within the next week, beginning with the trade sector under the PHARE program, according to sources in Brussels. The offer consists of financial aid worth 12 million euros, which is not expected to be made available before September, when PHARE begins officially.

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