The ‘Green Line’ that divides the island has become more porous in recent years, but still presents an impediment to free movement. Anyone who arrives on the island from Turkey is deemed to have entered Cyprus illegally by the government of the Republic.
In addition, the Foreign Office warns: “Many cars hired in the south are not insured for use in the north.” Officials controlling the crossing points to the south enforce strict rules on goods, including a limit of 40 cigarettes per person.
The appeal of the island would be transformed by unification. Many tourists seeking alternatives to Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey could be attracted by easier access to resorts such as Famagusta and Kyrenia.
If a settlement is agreed, adventure companies are likely to move in, opening up the relatively unvisited interior of the north for hiking and cycling. In addition, the re-opening of Nicosia airport would boost the attraction of the capital as a city-break destination. It could also re-establish itself as a hub to rival Beirut, Tel Aviv or Cairo.
Until division, Cyprus — and, in particular, the capital Nicosia — was a thriving hub for the region. Nicosia airport closed after the war, leaving Larnaca and Paphos as the gateways to the Republic. Ercan airport in the north is served only by flights from Turkey.
Although both Anastasiades and Akinci have resolved themselves to solve the Cyprus problem, many points of difference remain — in particular over the future of 35,000 Turkish troops on the island.
The Greek foreign minister, Nikos Kotzias, tweeted: “We need a viable solution for Cyprus, without occupation forces and intervention rights.” But the government in Ankara maintains that the presence of Turkish troops provides a guarantee for peace.
Bilateral talks are expected to continue until Wednesday, followed by two days of negotiations involving Greece, Turkey and other international players.