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Last Updated: Monday, 23 August 2004, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Northern Cyprus trade ban lifted
By Tabitha Morgan
BBC, Nicosia

Turkish Cypriots at Yes campaign rally
Turkish Cypriots had voted for reunification of the island
Turkish Cypriots have begun trading with their Greek Cypriot compatriots in the south of the island for the first time in three decades.

The introduction of inter-island trade is part of a package of EU measures to boost the economy of northern Cyprus.

It comes after Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of reuniting the island in a poll last April.

But the rejection of reunification by Greek Cypriots meant the north remained excluded from the EU.

Less than an hour after the legislation was introduced, vegetable farmers and textile manufacturers were lining up to register their products.

Economic isolation

It is hoped the measures may help to end the economic isolation of northern Cyprus.

But Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, who was voted into office on a promise to get northern Cyprus into the EU, says this is not enough.

He wants to see the introduction of direct trade between northern Cyprus and EU countries.

Direct trade was originally proposed in an effort to boost the Turkish Cypriot economy after northern Cyprus was excluded from the EU by the Greek Cypriots' rejection of reunification.

But after the Republic of Cyprus registered strong opposition to direct trade, Brussels postponed a final decision on the measures until next month.

Unless Mr Talat can deliver some more far-reaching economic benefits soon, his fragile coalition government may start to look rather vulnerable.

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