Nicosia.- (CNA) – The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, President Demetris Christofias, and T/c leader Mehmet Ali Talat, have reached an agreement for the opening of Limnitis crossing point and the access to and from Kokkina.
The decision was taken during todayʼs 34th meeting between the two leaders, in the framework of the direct negotiation process aiming at finding a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem.
In statements after the meeting and at the presence of the two leaders, UN Secretary Generalʼs Special Representative in Cyprus, Tayee Brook Zerihoun said that had the pleasant duty to read the agreement reached on the opening of Limnitis and access to and from Kokkina.
“One, the two leaders decided to proceed with the opening of Limnitis crossing point under normal rules of existing crossings.
Two, in the context of this agreement, the role of UNFICYP is underscored.
Three, crossing of persons wishing to visit Kokkina will take place with the escort of UNFICYP. The visits will be made by minibuses on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The T/c side may request UNFICYP escort for one or two extra minibuses a week.
Four, there will be transfer of reasonable quantities of food and water and other supplies of non-military nature with UNFICYP escort to Kokkina.
Five, Kokkina will be connected to the nearest electricity grid before the opening of the crossing point.
Six, humanitarian issues: Ambulances will be able to visit Kokkina to move sick persons. The rules governing the crossing of ambulances will apply. Reciprocally, G/c ambulances will cross in the opposite direction to hospitals in Nicosia. In case of fire, T/c fire engines and accompanying water tanks will be able to call at Kokkina.
Seven, there will be reciprocal arrangements from time to time for specific events through this and other crossing points”, Zerihoun concluded.
Ever since the 1974 Turkish invasion, Greek Cypriot residents in the area of Limnitis, located at the northeastern coast of Cyprus, have to travel to Paphos, on the western coast, and Limassol, on the south, in order to reach the capital Nicosia. Opening a crossing point at Limnitis would make this journey far shorter. In the recent past, several crossing points to and from the islandʼs northern Turkish occupied areas have opened to facilitate the movement of people.
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias pointed out on Friday that some time would be needed to open the crossing point in Limnitis, since certain arrangements were necessary.
Speaking on his return to the Presidential Palace after a meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, in the context of direct negotiations to solve the Cyprus problem, President Christofias said their agreement to open the crossing point was announced after their meeting, and did not wish to go into further details.
Replying to questions, President Christofias said that ”for Limnitis to open there must be a checkpoint on either side and thus some time will be needed.”
Asked if the Turkish demand to transport fuel to Kokkina has been withdrawn, President Christofias said the problem has been solved with the provision of electricity.
To other questions, he said the crossing point would be open on a daily basis.
In an address read out for him at the opening of a Wine Festival in London, Christofias underlined that “with patience, perseverance and devotion to principles, we managed to achieve the objective which is the opening of Limnitis. The agreement to open the crossing point is a positive development that revitalizes the optimism for a solution to the Cyprus problem and the vindication of our people”.
The Cypriot President acknowledged that the opening of crossing points “is certainly not the solution of the Cyprus problem, although it strengthens the feeling of confidence between the two communities and helps create a good climate on the background of the negotiations”.
President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso has welcomed the agreement reached on Friday between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus to open a crossing point in Limnitis.
”This is very good news and an excellent response to the call I made yesterday to both leaders to agree on confidence building measures and move forward in the negotiations to reunify the country,” Barroso said.
He added that ”this agreement shows that where there is a will there is a way” and that ”it is a promising step in the overall settlement process, which will soon enter its decisive phase.”
”The Commission fully supports the efforts of the two leaders, under the aegis of the United Nations, to reach a comprehensive settlement and to reunify the island. Indeed I believe that there is a unique chance this year to bring an end to this long-running conflict on European soil and this chance must be taken,” he said.
Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn welcomed the agreement as a ”further important confidence building measure that will benefit the two communities” in Cyprus.
”This will also make the daily life of many Cypriots easier and will help to build trust between the two communities. The Commission stands ready to financially contribute to the works,” he added.
President of the European Parliament Hans Gert Poettering has welcomed the agreement reached on Friday between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus to open a crossing point in Limnitis.
”I welcome this further step of the two communities in Cyprus and the efforts of the two leaders, President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat,” he said.
He added that ”it shows that the two negotiators are making a serious effort and they deserve every support from the international community and in particular from the European Commission, including the visit to Cyprus yesterday of President Jose Manuel Barroso, and the European Parliament.”
”I hope that it will lead to many other steps that will improve the daily life of the citizens of both communities and that it will finally lead to a comprehensive overall settlement making Cyprus an undivided member state,” he said.
Furthermore, Poettering called on President Christofias and Talat to continue their efforts towards settling all outstanding questions.