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Cyprus to reopen internal Greek-Turkish border

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Cyprus to reopen internal Greek-Turkish border

A border crossing along the internal Cypriot border
Photo: DPA

The Republic of Cyprus today plans to reopen crossing areas along the internal border that separates the island’s Greek-controlled south from the Turkish-dominated north.

The decision to reopen the border’s eight main crossing areas was made jointly by the leaders of Greek and Turkish Cyprus. The unilateral decision of Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to close the border in early March was met with protests from both sides. Now, with the two halves of the island reporting consistently low infection rates, crossings will again be allowed for work, education and medical purposes.

The opening should significantly benefit the economy of northern Cyprus, many of whose citizens are employed or study in the south. The bilateral agreement may be a springboard for cooperation between the two sides to solve the island’s longstanding political conflict. While leaders have been unable to generate significant progress since bilateral talks stalled in 2017, Anastasiades and his northern counterpart Mustafa Akinci have recently expressed interest in some form of reunification.

Expect the northern Cyprus presidential election in October to be a referendum on Akinci and, more broadly, his pro-unification agenda. He will be challenged by several hardliners who reject unification talks in favour of closer relations with Turkey. However, if the border opening significantly contributes to the revival of the northern Cypriot economy, Akinci and his unification agenda could see a boost in popularity in the coming months.

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