my Cyprus, my Κύπρος, my Kıbrıs

Bureaucracy

Looking into the buffer zone at Ayios Dometios checkpoint

Looking into the buffer zone from Ayios Dometios checkpoint

“Well done,” they said. You’ve conquered your fears; crossing to the north every day and no less by car. However, it does come with a price, aside from the irritating time difference.

First of all, I’ve realized how much paperwork is involved in certain actions; things you would never even think of unless you happen to find yourself in that particular situation.

Most days for lunch I cross into the buffer zone to eat lunch at The Home Café, mainly because by that time I’m in dire need of a break from Turkish. However, since I cross into the north with my car it means that I can only be checked-out with my car. “Yasaktır” (it’s forbidden they said), to cross either into the buffer zone or back to the south without the car. The procedure was maddening. Every day the Turkish Cypriot police – whoever was on duty – would come up with something different. Undoubtedly they were as helpful as they could be in the face of these nonsense rules, but given that I didn’t have much time to spare, each day my patience was waning. One of the officials let me cross normally, one kept my ID card as a type of guarantee that I would return and one got the customs officer to call and find out what must be done for this ‘bayan’ who needs to cross into the buffer zone every day. It was decided that I must park close to the check point (right next to it in fact) and leave my key with the customs officer. However, even here a problem arose: each day the customs officer on duty was different and they must all be told. In the end, I got fed up of this saga and now take the slightly longer route round via the Ayios Dhometios (Kermia) checkpoint.

Who came up with all these rules?

At least twice a week I get asked whether my father’s a Turk (“Baban Türk mü?”). To which I reply yes, but he does not have KKTC citizenship (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus). Sometimes I’m lucky and this conversation only lasts about two minutes, unfortunately other times, officials just can’t seem to understand that not only does he not have KKTC citizenship but he cannot be found anywhere in their system. I’ve heard a few times in fact, that if you’re Turkish Cypriot you cannot present your Republic of Cyprus ID to Turkish Cypriot officials at the checkpoint, in other words you cannot use this ID to cross to the north. In jest of course, my boss called me ‘problematic’ as every time we cross the border together about a thousand questions are thrown at me or we have to fill out a form.

Unfortunately, rules exist for a reason and must be implemented apparently. As someone recently said to me, very soon [after a solution] we won’t have to deal with any of this.

 

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