Cyprus proposes trade measures

The Cypriot government yesterday announced that it will allow Turkish-Cypriot vehicles to cross from the Turkish-occupied north of the island and will exempt Turkish Cypriots from paying VAT on goods sold directly to consumers in the Cyprus Republic. The decision is part of a series of proposals made to the European Commission on unilateral moves to boost economic relations between the two sides. The measures, announced yesterday by Transport Minister Haris Thrasou, include the issuing of licenses to trucks transporting commercial goods, buses and taxis. Thrasou said that a proposed amendment to the law on vehicles would allow for the free issuing of a temporary driver’s license to Turkish Cypriots and a temporary circulation license for their vehicles, which would be valid for up to a year. It covered «vehicles belonging to Cypriots who are legal residents of areas not controlled by the government of the Republic, provided they fulfill the conditions set by the relevant ministry,» said Thrasou. Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Giorgos Lillikas said he hoped the Turkish-Cypriot side would «respond to the facilities and measures that exclusively benefited the Turkish Cypriots.» He said he believed the Commission would approve the government’s decision. The European Union has been seeking to open direct trade connections with the occupied north of Cyprus since the Republic of Cyprus joined the EU on May 1, without the Turkish Cypriots, who in a referendum approved a UN plan to reunify the island. The Greek Cypriots rejected the plan in a separate referendum.