As checkpoints in divided Cyprus are reopening on Friday after a year and a half of closure due to the coronavirus, President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar will hold a teleconference on Thursday.
Cyprus is divided since a 1974 Turkish invasion and its Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot populations are confronted with a number of designated checkpoints controlling movements between the breakaway north and the free area.
The sealed checkpoints up-ended the lives of thousands who would cross the island daily either for work, family commitments or just to meet friends.
“The reopening of all crossing points will facilitate free movement, promote people-to-people contacts, build trust and have an overall positive socio-economic impact across the island for the benefit of all Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots,” the U.N. mission on Cyprus, UNFICYP, said in a statement in Nicosia on Wednesday.
“Under the current conditions, on (Friday) June 4, 2021, Level 2 (Orange) status will apply at all crossings,” it added.
A committee of health experts from both sides will assess the impact of the opening on the pandemic. People who cross will require a 7-day negative antigen test or PCR test, the peacekeeping mission also said.
Vehicle and pedestrian crossings have been subject to on-and-off closures since February 2020, when the government shut the checkpoints for the first time in almost two decades as a precaution.
Since then there has been some easing of restrictions, but different rules on each side made crossings impossible for many.
UN-brokered peace talks aiming to reunite the EU-member island have faltered many times.