NICOSIA – The unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, or TRNC, lifted all visa requirements on Friday for visitors from the southern, Greek part of the island nation.
UN Special Representative on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, made the announcement following the first meeting between the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, Nikos Anastasiadis and the newly elected Mustafa Akinci, respectively, who resumed peace negotiations on Friday after an eight-month suspension.
Lifting visa requirements to enter TRNC is among the confidence-building measures agreed upon during this first meeting, and in return, Anastasiadis presented his Turkish Cypriot counterpart with maps of 28 minefields in northern Cyprus, near the mountainous region of Pentadaktilos.
“In this prevailing climate of optimism, and encouraged by the momentum that is building across the island, the two leaders underscored their shared will to reach a comprehensive settlement,” Eide said after the meeting held at the old Nicosia airport, headquarters of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.
Obtaining a visa became mandatory in 2003 when border checkpoints were opened in between the two territories, a system implemented only by northern authorities.
These requirements discouraged many Greek Cypriots from crossing to the north, not because of the process itself, but due to the “bitter pill” that involved asking for a visa by immigration police to access a territory that once was part of their homeland.