The statements made by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, calling on the Greek Cypriot side to accelerate the opening of crossing points, are totally unfounded, contradict reality and serve political considerations, Greek Cypriot Head of the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Crossings, Sotos Zackheos, said today.
Asked by CNA to comment on Akinci’s statements, made during an onsite visit in Apliki last Saturday, Zackheos said that “it is rather the Turkish Cypriot side that delayed the resolution of this problem for the past 3 years, despite the good will of our side”.
He also said that 15 days ago, President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades gave clear instructions to complete works for the opening of crossings within 3 months. The United Nations and the Turkish Cypriot side were also informed about this development, he added.
“It is very unfair, those who are responsible for delaying the opening of crossings in the past 3 years to resort to such propaganda methods” Zackheos added and expressed regret over Akinci’s statements.
Instead of working in favor of a climate that is conducive for the resumption of settlement and for reaching a settlement on the basis of international law “unfortunately we have this kind of statements from Mr. Akinci” he added.
According to Zackheos, the Greek Cypriot side avoided all this time to engage in a blame game. “We are ready to continue in good spirit, in order to find a solution” he said, while noting that delays continue due to the Turkish Cypriot side.
He reminded that the effort to open more crossings came as a result of a meeting between President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, almost 3 years ago, starting with Deryneia in the east and Lefka-Apliki in the northwest.
Speaking in particular about delays in the opening of the crossing point in Deryneia, Zackheos said that more than a year was lost in talks, aiming to persuade the Turkish side to remove an outpost of the Turkish army blocking the way.
“There were contacts with the permanent members of the Security Council in order to convince [the Turkish side] that the Turkish outpost must go” he said, adding that some of them turned directly to Ankara and to Akinci. In the end, instead of demolishing the construction, Turkey evacuated the outpost and built a second one a few meters away, he noted.
With regard to Apliki-Lefka, Zackheos said that the beginning of construction works within the buffer zone was significantly delayed, not due to the Greek Cypriot side. He further noted that two months ago, the Greek Cypriot side offered to complete the construction of this part of the crossing, and pledged to employ both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. “We persisted as recently as last week, but unfortunately the Turkish Cypriots rejected it” he concluded.