NICOSIA.- (CNA) – The government of the Republic of Cyprus announced on Friday a series of new measures regarding the movement of public-use vehicles for Turkish Cypriots to the government controlled areas, as well as the movement of goods and the development of contacts and economic relations between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
The new measures have been submitted to the European Commission and aim at facilitating the implementation of the EU Council’s Green Line Regulation, that was adopted on April 29, 2004.
Announcing the measures today during a press conference at the Presidential Palace, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism George Lillikas expressed hope that ”the Turkish Cypriot side would respond to the facilitations and the measures that mostly serve the Turkish Cypriots.”
Asked about the implementation of the measures, the Minister of Commerce said, ”if the EU adopts the facilitations proposed by the Cyprus government, then the measures could be implemented immediately.”
Director of the President’s Diplomatic Office Tasos Tzionis said that the EU was briefed orally over a month ago on the government’s proposals and later on the Republic submitted its proposals in writing. ”The first EU reaction was encouraging and positive,” Tzionis said.
Part of the trade package announced by the Minister of Commerce is exempting Turkish Cypriots from registering or paying Value Added Tax (VAT) if they sell their goods directly to Greek Cypriot consumers to the government controlled areas.
This measure will allow Turkish Cypriots to sell their merchandise to the controlled areas without the need to be registered in the VAT Register and follow the other tax procedures.
Minister of Communications and Works Charis Thrassou announced the measures for the movement of public-use vehicles for the Turkish Cypriots, saying that they aim to facilitate the movement of Turkish Cypriots with mechanically driven vehicles and the transport of goods and passengers to the government-controlled areas.
Thrassou said the government would grant, free of charge, a temporary driving license to Turkish Cypriots, as well as a temporary road service license (circulation license) to vehicles, which will be valid for one year.
MOVEMENT OF GOODS
Announcing the government’s proposals, the Minister of Commerce said that the measures aim to ease the commercial exchanges across the demarcation line and to further develop the exchanges and other financial relations between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
He noted that the measures concern only products and merchandise produced in the Turkish occupied areas and products that have in some way been processed in these areas.
Lillikas said that the government’s proposal is the endorsement of a simplified measure according to which the person who is located in the areas that are not controlled by the government will not be registered in the VAT Register.
”Instead,” he added, ”the buyer of the goods or the recipient of the services who is in the controlled areas and is registered in the VAT Register will have the obligation to pay the tax.”
”This measure will allow the Turkish Cypriots to sell their merchandise to the controlled areas without the need to be registered in the VAT Register and follow the other tax procedures,” he explained.
He added that this measure concerns the sales that occur when the buyer is registered in the VAT Register.
The government also proposes a plan for the sale of goods to the consumers in the government-controlled areas by persons in the Turkish occupied areas who cross the line with their merchandise, without the need to register for VAT or undertake other procedures that might obstruct the exercise of commerce between the two communities.
Regarding the movement of goods across the demarcation line, Lillikas said that the government ”has suggested the amendment of the EU Regulation at this specific point so that the goods that are entitled to export return and which are entirely produced in the non-controlled areas are exempt from duties or surcharges of equivalent result when they cross the line and are considered as community goods”.
”In this way, the free movement of these goods and the assistance to the Turkish Cypriots will be reinforced by providing them with the possibility to trade these goods in the entire community territory,” he explained.
Moreover the government proposes the imposition of zero VAT on goods that cross the line to the Turkish occupied areas.
”With the application of these measures, the economic and trade relations between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will be developed, which is one of the goals of the government of the Republic of Cyprus,” the Minister of Commerce said.
Asked whether there was a first reaction by the EU on the measures, Lillikas said that the EU’s intentions are to facilitate the relations between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and thus it is deemed that the EU would agree with the government’s proposals.
He furthermore added that there are some gaps on the procedure for the EU Green Line Regulation that would not lead to the success of its goals.
Lillikas said that from his meetings with Turkish Cypriot businessmen, he concluded that the EU Regulation’s provisions were difficult to implement by the Turkish Cypriots.
PUBLIC USE VEHICLES
Minister of Communications and Works Charis Thrassou said that the government, in the framework of its declared and applied policy of rendering the EU Green Line Regulation more effective so as to facilitate the movement of Turkish Cypriots with mechanically driven vehicles and the transport of goods and passengers to the government-controlled areas, has decided the granting, free of charge, of a temporary driving licenses to Turkish Cypriots.
”The government has also decided a temporary road service license (circulation license) to vehicles, which will be valid for one year,” Thrassou said.
From April 2003, when the free transport of Turkish Cypriots to the free areas began, until June 30, 2004, a total of 110.029 Turkish Cypriots were transported from the various checkpoints to the government-controlled areas of the Republic.
Moreover 839 ordinary driving licenses were issued or renewed as well as 72.476 temporary licenses of road use (circulation) and an equal number of temporary driving licenses.
During the same period, 232.283 Turkish Cypriot vehicles entered the government-controlled areas of the Republic.
Thrassou noted that the measure for the transport of goods by Turkish Cypriot vehicles has not yet been implemented.