The European Commission has been informed of the temporary closing of four checkpoints, and said it would continue monitoring the situation closely in order to ensure that each closure and health checks remain in accordance with the Green Line Regulation.
According to a European Commission official speaking to the press in Brussels, “the European Commission has been notified by the Republic of Cyprus of the temporary closure of four crossing points at the Green Line, namely the Ledra Street, Deryneia, Astromeritis, and Lefka crossings, while crossings at Ayios Dometios, Ledra Palace, and Pyrgos will remain open but with increased health checks.”
He added that “in line with the Green Line Regulation, the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus shall carry out checks on all persons crossing the Green Line with the aim, inter alia, of preventing any threat to public security or public policy.”
"The Commission will continue to monitor the situation carefully to ensure that any temporary closures and the conduct of any health checks are proportionate and compatible with the Green Line Regulation", the Commission official stated.
President: The move was made for the protection of the entirety of the Cyprus population, including Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots
The comments come after critics of the measure, which was implemented on Saturday in what the Government said is an attempt to protect Cyprus residents against the coronavirus epidemic which has yet to reach the island, said that it was against the 2004 EU Green Line Regulation.
As tensions continue to mount among civil society and non-governmental groups, as well as by opposition party AKEL and Turkish Cypriot officials, President Nicos Anastasiases said on Tuesday that the intensity of reaction is unjustifiably disproportionate to the Government’s move.
“It is the right of every citizen and every group to react in a way which they believe expresses their opinions,” Anastasiades said, but noted that the move was made for the protection of the entirety of the Cyprus population, including both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
A fierce backlash has erupted both on social media and through a protest on Saturday at the Ledra crossing which led to the arrest of a 55-year-old peace activist.
Ruling Disy President Averof Neophytou reiterated the President’s stance, claiming that the move was not a political manoeuvre, but an emergency measure in view of the dangers posed by the coronavirus epidemic spreading across Europe.
The Bicommunal Technical Committee on Health will meet later Tuesday to discuss the island’s measures against the spread of the virus.
The meeting is to take place at 2pm, the announcement said, and will be its third since the two leaders instructed its members to work on joint measures at a meeting which they had on February 3.
The meeting on February 3 was cited by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci when he urged Anastasiades to re-evaluate his Government’s move, which Akinci said only worked to create a sense of panic.
According to Akinci, the two leaders had agreed in the meeting last month that all coronavirus protection measures would be taken jointly through the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Health, and that no discussion on any unilateral moves, particularly in the form of closing checkpoints, had taken place.