Cyprus Foreign Affairs Minister, Nikos Christodoulides, has said that the Foreign Ministry is currently re-evaluating the situation related to the implementation of the Green Line Regulation in order to make the regulation more effective, and address any problems and difficulties.

Christodoulides who was speaking before the Foreign and European Affairs House Committee which he briefed on the issue, noted that after a meeting with organised groups and a discussion at the informal EU Foreign Affairs Council, the Foreign Ministry is re-evaluating all the issues regarding the Green Line Regulation, noting that Cyprus is now putting forward the issue of the trade of products from the government-controlled to the Turkish occupied areas of the island.

Moreover, he noted that the whole issue is discussed with the competent Ministries adding that issues related to food safety constitute a priority for the Republic of Cyprus.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the European Commission has sought the Republic of Cyprus’ position as regards the transfer of processed products, such as juices and tahini (a paste made from sesame seeds) from the Turkish occupied areas to the government-controlled ones. However, as it is noted, such a discussion will take place once the political conditions allow it.

Moreover, referring to the issue of halloumi (traditional Cypriot cheese) Christodoulides said that the question is which organisation will conduct the controls in the occupied areas.

Organisations of farmers that participated in the discussion raised issues such as the unfair competition between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot producers and the illicit trade of Turkish products which are promoted as goods produced in the occupied areas, noting that in many occasions the illicit trade takes place not from the designated crossing points.

The Customs Department assured that they perform checks on a 24 hour basis for the products entering from the occupied areas which bear certificates from the Turkish Cypriot commerce chamber.

According to statistical data of the Republic of Cyprus the value of goods with the necessary certificates that passed from the Green Line during 2018 rose by 1.4% and amounted to 4,856,892 euros compared to 4.790,964 euros during the previous period.

Meanwhile, according to data presented by the Foreign Ministry before the House Committee the number of illegal arrivals to the government-controlled areas has tripled and it takes 4-5 years for many asylum applications to be cleared.

In 2018 4,451 irregular immigrants crossed the Green Line compared to 1,686 in 2017. They mainly come from Syria, Cameroon, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Iraq.

The Foreign Minister said that there are many processes underway as regards individuals who do not need to stay, for example an agreement has been signed with Georgia, while checks as regards university students have been enhanced.

Christodoulides noted that another problem is that Turkey does not implement the readmission agreement since it does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.

Moreover, he said that efforts are made to step up the procedures for asylum applicants so that Cyprus will not be an attractive country for immigrants.

The “Green Line Regulation” was adopted on 29 April 2004 to regulate the movement of persons and goods across the Green Line.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

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