Christodoulides reveals 14 CBMs for Turkish Cypriots

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President Nikos Christodoulides announced a set of confidence building measures aimed at “improving the daily lives” of Turkish Cypriots, chief among them being to grant citizenship to the children of a Turkish Cypriot and a Turkish parent, as well as enhancing the ‘Green Line Trade’ facility.

Making minor changes to a list that was initially revealed last summer, the measures could address a certain scepticism to date about Christodoulides’ declarations that he is serious about wanting to solve the Cyprus problem.

The package of 14 measures was held back after the Turkish army and the Turkish Cypriot leadership went ahead with unilateral road works within the UN-controlled buffer zone near Pyla, creating tension with the peacekeeping force and undermining efforts to resume Cyprus peace talks.

“If implemented, the list would amount to the most substantive gestures towards the Turkish Cypriots to date,” said economic and political analyst Fiona Mullen, director of Sapienta Economics.

“It includes many measures which had been called for by those campaigning for a solution of the Cyprus problem and included some gestures that are politically sensitive in the Greek Cypriot community, such as granting citizenship to the children of one Turkish Cypriot and one non-Cypriot (Turkish) parent, subject to conditions,” added Mullen.

Politis newspaper revealed last August the initial gestures towards Turkish Cypriots which Christodoulides had been preparing, generally targeted towards citizens, as opposed to the Turkish Cypriot leadership.

Asked on Friday about the measure in relation to the granting of citizenship, President Christodoulides said: “In 2007, during the administration of Tassos Papadopoulos, the Council of Ministers set five criteria in the matter of examining applications for Cypriot citizenship. These applications were not being reviewed – they were stopped – and will begin to be reviewed.”

“The Turkish Cypriots are citizens of the Republic of Cyprus, we show it in practice. We are the Republic of Cyprus, a member state of the European Union (EU), internationally recognized, we are not a pseudo state. We will examine the applications made and decisions will be made on the basis of legality, laws, regulations of the Republic of Cyprus, the European acquis,” the president added.

Trade unions

As regards any reaction of trade unions to the measure to expand products within the framework of the green line regulation, he said: “There is absolutely no reaction. I am also in contact with the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) and the Federation of Employers and Industrialists (OEB). I had contacts with them, and what was announced is in consultation with them.”

In response to a journalist’s remark that unions reported that there is unfair competition with the green line regulation, the President said: “Unfair competition is created in some cases with the regulation agreed by the Republic of Cyprus in 2004, but you haven’t seen the list of products yet.”

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar has already described the measures as “full of traps”.

Issuing the list, the Presidency said, “the measures have been formulated following an assessment of all relevant parameters and will be implemented in line with national law, international law, and the European Union (EU) acquis.”

The 14 measures

The set of 14 measures announced by the government aimed at improving the daily lives of Turkish Cypriots, especially those crossing over to the Republic to benefit from public services, are:

  1. Examination of all pending applications for the granting of Cypriot citizenship in the framework of the decision by the Council of Ministers of February 2007.
  2. The payment of widow pensions to entitled beneficiaries.
  3. Access to clinical services of the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics.
  4. Provision of emergency and urgent pharmaceutical needs.
  5. Expansion of the list of goods in the framework of the Green Line Regulation with the addition of six specific products.
  6. Access to human resources programmes in the framework of the action plan for the European Year of Skills.
  7. Access to vocational programmes by the Productivity Centre, as well as to training seminars on issues relating to the EU acquis.
  8. The right to acquire a Youth Culture Card upon the completion of 18 years of age.
  9. Increase of staffing at the checkpoints.
  10. Widening of the crossing point at Agios Dometios.
  11. Measures for the rapid crossing of students at the Ledra Palace checkpoint.
  12. Hiring of staff with knowledge of the Turkish language at the Nicosia Citizen Service Centre.
  13. Safeguarding the continuation of the smooth operation of the Mia Milia water waste unit.
  14. Facilitation for access to Muslim monuments in the government-controlled areas.

Missing from the list revealed last August seem to be contacts between schools, teachers and students; the reopening of the technical committee that was working with EU institutions in the run-up to Crans Montana on harmonising the economy in northern Cyprus with the EU’s acquis Communautaire; the implementation of the decision to allow Turkish Cypriots to open a basic bank account; financial support for joint ventures across the divide; a one-stop-shop for trade across the Green Line (separate from the EU-funded project already in progress); a Turkish-language service and an information campaign about a federal solution.

Measures already in place include Turkish-speakers at the public service centres, easing congestion at crossing points, a repeated commitment to opening more crossing points, as well as electricity and water supply to utilities in the north, when in need.

Discussion of sharing energy resources is not on the table.