Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders will be joined by European Union Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle and other officials today to open the seventh crossing between the Turkish north and Greek south as talks on reunification of the divided island resumed following a one-month break.
The crossing, Yeşilırmak (Limnitis), will give a breath of fresh air to Erenköy, a 19-square-kilometer coastal strip in the northwest of the island that has no land link to Turkish Cyprus and is predominantly populated by a small Turkish military unit.
The new crossing will help families of Turkish soldiers use the land route for visits. Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu, speaking to reporters after talks with Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias on Wednesday, said the ceremony will be held in the UN buffer zone, meaning that the Turkish Cypriot authorities were not in charge of extending invitations to Thursday’s opening ceremony. Noting that it is the UN’s responsibility to send invitations, he said he has no information about invitees. Füle, who will be present during the opening ceremony, is expected to meet with both Eroğlu and Christofias and hold talks with officials in Greek Cyprus.
Despite dividing lines and persisting conflict between the two sides, the Turkish and Greek communities can cross to each other’s territory with only limited restrictions. Peace talks aimed at reunifying the island, which took a one-month break because of the UN General Assembly in September attended by both leaders, were re-launched on Wednesday. That round of talks, the 13th meeting between Eroğlu and Christofias, focused on the thorny issue of property.
Eroğlu told reporters after the talks that they had assessed attempts to bring together views and offers suggested by the negotiations committees of both sides during the 33-day hiatus. He said the next meeting is scheduled to take place on Oct. 18 and that meetings following that will be decided on that day.
Meanwhile, Slovenian President Danilo Turk, who was in Greek Cyprus on Tuesday, told reporters that his country supports Turkey’s full membership in the EU, but he said Turkey must fulfill all criteria to join the bloc, adding that he disagrees with those who accept a “drift” away from that goal.