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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 April, 2003, 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK
Press divided as Cypriots cross border
Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash
Rauf Denktash - motives questioned

Press on both sides of the Cyprus divide are wary of the motives behind the opening of the border for the first time in nearly 30 years.

The Greek Cypriot daily I Simerini is suspicious, describing the move as "new tricks" by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, designed to pre-empt measures by the Greek Cypriot side and "neutralise" the Turkish Cypriot opposition.

Mr Denktash, the paper says, is trying "to create the impression of a de facto acceptance of the pseudo-state by the Greek Cypriots who will visit the area as tourists".

The Greek Cypriot side, the paper says, should be looking out for "all the possible traps".

On the Turkish Cypriot side, the Kibris newspaper is worried about the economic consequences, fearing an exodus of people heading to the south to seek higher wages.

"It is as though they are making matters worse while trying to be helpful, and, with their decision, telling those who advocate freedom of movement in Cyprus and to the Greek Cypriots, 'Get it and do anything you want with it'," the paper says.

[Denktash is under] psychological and political pressure
To Vima

But on mainland Turkey, the Vatan newspaper welcomes the move, impatient for Turkish companies to take advantage of the economic opportunities.

The current policy of imposing high taxes on exports and imports to northern Cyprus is equivalent to "shooting ourselves in the foot", the paper says, comparing the poor state of the economy in the north with the "multi-storey malls" in the south.

Political pressure

Athens newspapers also welcome the change, though opinions differ on the thinking behind it.

A commentator in the independent daily I Kathimerini says Mr Denktash is "obviously" wanting to regain the confidence of Turkish Cypriots.

But the independent daily To Vima regards it as a "positive consequence of the Republic of Cyprus' accession to the EU".

A great deal of "psychological and political pressure" is being exerted on Mr Denktash, the paper says.

He "has to show that he too is participating in Nicosia's effort to create a 'climate of positive co-operation and coexistence' on the island".

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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