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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 08-04-03

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    Ledra Street, which was the main shopping street of the capital Nicosia, has opened on Thursday at 0900 local time (0600 GMT), for the first time in nearly 45 years, signaling a renewed momentum in efforts to bring about a settlement to the Cyprus problem.

    At 0900 local time, representatives from both communities cut a ribbon in Kykkou street a road between Ledras and what it known as Locmatzi point in the Turkish occupied part of Nicosia, releasing balloons into the sky, indicating the opening of the street closed since 1963.

    Addressing the ceremony, Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou said this day is an auspicious occasion as it signals the opening of the fifth crossing point in Cyprus.

    ``We want to be auspicious because we aspire in the elimination of the crossings and the opening of all roads in this country for all its citizens with no obstructions as consequence of its reunification``, he added.

    ``Already we have started negotiations we are establishing working groups and technical committees to look at all aspects of the problem and we will try our best to reach an agreement for the settlement of the longstanding Cyprus problem as soon as possible``, he added.

    Iacovou recalled that the opening of Ledras was not a bed of roses. ``In fact I could say it has been a difficult road to reach a happy celebratory occasion, noting the obstacles have been overcome and I hope we will overcome all the difficulties that we face in the process to find a solution to the problem of Cyprus that will lead to the reunification of the country and its people,`` he concluded

    Nami on his part said the opening of Ledra Street is a historic event.

    ``We are witnessing the overcoming of one of the obstacles for the reunification of the island. Almost half a century of division has been symbolised here,`` he added, noting that today`s ceremony ``is symbolic in the fact that we are now in a new era, a new process has started, it started in a very positive mood.``

    In Nami`s words, ``we are now at a new age, new understanding, we have to make good use of it. Let us not forget it is important for us, not G/c and T/c only, but the world is also watching us and watching closely how we are going to manage our conflict.``

    The so-called mayor of the Turkish occupied part of Nicosia, Cemal Bolutoglulari, referred to the hard work by all in achieving the opening of Ledra Street, adding that he and Eleni Mavrou Mayor of Nicosia in the government controlled areas of the Republic, worked for the opening of this symbolic crossing point without politicians.

    ``All this time Eleni and I worked together and today locmatzi is opening,`` he added.

    In her address, Mavrou said that the opening of Ledra Street ``generates a renewed sense of hope for both communities in the island that progress towards a comprehensive settlement that has been elusive for far too long has been achieved.``

    She said the road has opened but the bullet ridden buildings around us is a constant reminder that there is still a long way until peace prevails and the reunification of the island achieved. She added that ``it remains to be seen whether this road in the end turns into the avenue which would help us reach solutions for all Greeks and Turkish Cypriots.`` She concluded saying in Turkish ``Kibris`da baris insallah (I wish there is peace in Cyprus).

    Interim Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Elizabeth Spehar, described today`s ceremony as historic because it constitutes ``tangible evidence that what has appeared impossible for decades is in fact attainable.``

    She also said that this day is ``historic in its symbolism, as the barriers that came to embody the division of this beautiful island finally give way to let all the people of Nicosia come together in the heart of the city.``

    ``We all know that the opening of Ledra Street does not mean the Cyprus problem has been solved. That will require much more work among Cypriots as well as support from all those who wish to see a just and durable settlement in this country. But the opening does give us a glimpse of what is possible when those elements come together,`` she added.

    According to Spehar, ``there is a new environment in Cyprus, one that has raised many hopes and expectations here and around the world. We in the United Nations will do our utmost to help as the Cypriots proceed to shape the future of their country. I sincerely hope that todays historic event will be only one of many markers of progress on that road.``

    The opening of Ledra Street was agreed by Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat during their meeting on March 21. The two leaders also decided to ask their respective advisers to meet this coming week in order to set up a number of working groups and technical committees, establish their agendas, and to do so in the most expeditious way possible and to meet in three months time to review the work of the working groups and technical committees, and using their results, to start full-fledged negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.


    The opening of a crossing point to and from the islands northern Turkish occupied areas, at the heart of the capital, sends an optimistic message, the government has said.

    Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanos said the opening of Ledra street, blocked for decades, shows that the two communities in Cyprus can and must work together to achieve a political settlement that will end the de facto partition, reunify the country and vindicate its people, he said, hours after Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots began walking across the divide, through the opening.

    The government welcomes the opening of Ledra street, which has been achieved after moves and initiatives we have undertaken without much fanfare, with insistence and patience, he said.

    The Spokesman stressed however that the opening of Ledra street and generally opening of crossing points along the cease fire line does not constitute the settlement of the Cyprus problem.


    The European Commission has welcomed the opening of the Ledra Street crossing in Nicosia on Thursday, forty-four years after it had been closed, noting that ``the opening of the crossing marks an important step forward in building confidence between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities.``

    Enlargement Commissioner Rehn in a written statement said he was delighted that the two sides on the island have moved ahead with this important decision to open the Ledra Street crossing.

    ``It will bring direct benefits to those living and working in the neighbourhood of old Nicosia. Even more important is the symbolic value of the opening. It shows the two sides on the island are ready to put aside the difficulties of the past and work together to bring a comprehensive settlement and reunification to Cyprus under the aegis of the United Nations. The European Commission will for its part, fully support both communities on the island in this task, he added.


    The settlement of the Cyprus problem must come from the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots themselves and it not be imposed by foreigners, President of the Mauritius Sir Anerood Jugnauth has said.

    Receiving the credentials of the new High Commissioner of Cyprus to Mauritius, based in Pretoria, Argyros Antoniou, Sir Anerood said that the passing of time is not in favour of the people of the island and the international community because peace in the area passes through the Cyprus problem.

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