140 mln crossings since checkpoints opened

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In the 20 years since the crossings opened across the divide in 2003, the number who have crossed has surpassed approximately 140 million, despite their closure during the pandemic.

Last year alone, there were over 8 million crossings, said George Kasoulides, the coordinator for the bicommunal Technical Committee on Checkpoints.

Greek Cypriot negotiator Menelaos Menelaou said the checkpoints were a rift along the dividing line in Cyprus, contributing to the interaction between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

He underlined that the focus remains on a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus issue, where crossing points will no longer be necessary.

The two addressed an event in Larnaca, organised by the Cyprus Research Centre to review two decades since the checkpoints opened to facilitate free movement.

Menelaou said: “Our focus is always on how we create the conditions to reach a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus issue, where crossing points will no longer be necessary for access to and from the occupied areas “.

Kasoulides referred to problems such as movement, humanitarian issues and especially in remote checkpoints such as Kato Pyrgos and Dherynia.

For this reason, he said the technical committee often meets with Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, coordinated by the UN.

A total of nine crossing points have been opened since April 2003.

The first one, at Ledra Palace, was initially only for pedestrians and diplomatic vehicles.

In the same year, Ayios Dhometios opened for both vehicles and pedestrians.

In 2005, Astromeritis opened solely for vehicles. Ledra Street opened for pedestrians in 2008.

Kato Pyrgos opened for vehicles in 2010. Dheryneia opened for vehicles and pedestrians in 2019.

Aplici/Lefka opened in 2019, and Pergamos and Strovilia are located within the British Sovereign Base Areas of Dhekelia.

Due to the increased number of crossings, traffic congestion is created at checkpoints, and it is imperative to open more checkpoints to facilitate easier mobility.

Turkish Cypriots are asking for a checkpoint at Kaimakli/Mia Milia.

“Any decision taken should consider the needs of both sides,” said Kasoulides.

He said the Greek Cypriot side wants the opening of the Pyroi/Athienou checkpoint and one in Kato Pyrgos to facilitate the movement of the residents in those areas.

According to data, from 2004 to 2010, approximately €28.5 mln worth of products from the Turkish Cypriot side were sold, while products from the Greek Cypriot side were approximately €5.5 mln.

From 2018 to 2022, the sales of products from the Turkish Cypriot side reached €94 mln, while the related products from the Greek Cypriot side were €18.5 mln.