NICOSIA.- (CNA) – The Cyprus government announced on Friday a series of Military Confidence Building Measures aimed to develop a sense of security among Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. The government proposes the opening of eight additional crossing points along the ceasefire line, disengagement of military forces from the walled part of the capital Nicosia and from the wider Dherinia – Famagusta and Strovilia areas, in eastern Cyprus, demining of landmines by both sides, return of the fenced area of Famagusta to its lawful owners, common operation of the Famagusta port and restriction of military exercises.
Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides told a press conference that ”the government is convinced that these initiatives create the necessary basis for the creation of conditions of security and trust among Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots”, adding that the proposals are submitted to the European Commission.
Chrysostomides underlined that ”such a development contributes to the efforts for a political settlement of the Cyprus problem and at the same time it constitutes an investment to strengthen the prospect for viability of the solution of the Cyprus problem that would be achieved”.
Asked whether the government’s proposal regarding the reopening of the occupied town of Famagusta is connected with information, that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan would make a move in September to reopen Famagusta, Government Spokesman said that those two are independent from each other.
”Today’s proposals are independent from any other procedure and there is no information that our proposals will be accepted by the other side”, Chrysostomides said.
Director of the President’s Diplomatic Office Tasos Tzionis underlined that these measures are being suggested on the basis of reciprocity.
”All measures we announce today are on the basis of reciprocity. Our aim is to create conditions for more security, not to create conditions of insecurity” Tzionis said.
Asked how the dialogue for the measures will be conducted, Tzionis said that regarding the crossing points, there are two third – parties concerned, the UN and the EU.
”These are measures that need to be discussed with the UN or with the European Commission and if there is wish by the other side, (Turkish side) then we can find formulas of compromise”, Tzionis said.
He added that the Cyprus government has been informed that the Turkish side would accept the opening of the Astromeritis – Zodia crossing point and at a later stage the Ledra Street point.
”We have set some priorities and we would like to have the chance for discussion. We would not like the other side to just choose from the crossing points, the ones that suits them”, he clarified.
Deputy Chief of National Guard Fivos Klokaris reassured that the military measures would not affect the operational readiness of the National Guard, the Cyprus Republic’s armed forces.
The measures include the opening of eight new crossing points, four of which are of top priority for the government and provide for the crossing of people, vehicles and goods. These are Kato Pyrgos – Karavostasi, Astromeritis – Zodia – Morphou, Dhali – Louroujina and Dherinia – Famagusta.
Military consultant lieutenant colonel Antonis Markantonis said along those crossing points there are minefields, mainly of the occupation army, that need to be lifted, for the creation of conditions of safety.
The other four crossing points, to be opened at a later stage are Pomos – Pachyammos – Kato Pyrgos (vehicles and goods), Ledra Street (pedestrians and cyclists), Athena Avenue – Ayios Kassianos (people and vehicles) and the area of Kantara Avenue – Mia Milia (vehicles, goods and people).
The CBMs also include a proposal for the unmanning of military forces in the walled town of Nicosia and also at the area of Dherinia – Famagusta, and the limitation of military maneuvers across the cease fire lines and to an extent of two kilometers each side north and south.
Furthermore the government has suggested the return of the closed town of Famagusta, which has been occupied since 1974 and remains empty, in connection with the efforts for reopening the Famagusta port in a legitimate manner for the benefit of both communities.
Markantonis added that this proposal has already been presented by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos to EU Commissioner Gunter Verheugen.