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

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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias has described the opening of Ledra street as a positive development in efforts to reach a Cyprus settlement, adding that the government will now promote demanning along the ceasefire line in Nicosia and the opening of a crossing point at Limnitis, on the north west.

    He also said that the priority in the coming days will be the start of working groups and technical committees, which will deal with day to day issues as well as substantive aspects of the Cyprus question.

    In statements before his departure for London to attend a round table discussion hosted by the British Prime Minister for leaders of left-centre parties, Christofias said the opening of a crossing point to and from the islands northern Turkish occupied areas, at Ledra street, in the heart of the capital, is a positive development in our effort to pave the way towards a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus.

    He said that efforts to open this crossing point had been going on for some years now, there were some problems which have been overcome and the crossing point opened his morning based on an agreement reached between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides.

    The President said that difficulties may arise again but we are determined to address them and I hope and wish that the things that have been agreed will be followed.

    He noted that right now the focus must be on the positive elements, such as the opening of Ledra street. Credit must be given to the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat for todays development, which the international community has described as historic, he added.

    We are reserved. We believe this is an important development in our effort and it affects Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. We are talking about the heart of Nicosia and we appreciate that the next step will be demanning across the old city of Nicosia as well as the opening of crossing point at Limnitis, he said.

    Asked whether the opening of Ledra street is the first step for the opening of other crossing points, Christofias said that this is how we see it and added that during his meeting with Talat on March 21 we both tackled it in this way.

    Responding to questions, he said our priority in the coming days is to see the working groups and the technical committees begin their work

    He also said that he may have a meeting with Talat before any results emerge from the work of the committees.

    Christofias, who returns to Cyprus on Sunday, will address a special gathering of Cypriots living in the UK on Saturday night.


    Ledra Street, which was the main shopping street of the capital Nicosia, 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


    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 Commission noted that on 21 March the leaders of the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities took the important symbolic decision to open the Ledra Street crossing forty-four years after it had been closed. Now, less than two weeks later the crossing is open. The necessary safety works have been efficiently carried out as a result of the well co-ordinated efforts of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot municipalities of Nicosia, the UNPFI and UNDP. At the opening ceremony in Nicosia, Mr Jan Truszczynski, Deputy Director General of the Directorate General for Enlargement represented the Commission, the press release added.


    United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki moon welcomed Thursday the opening of the Ledra Street crossing point in Nicosia, reassuring of the international organisations full commitment in efforts to reach a Cyprus solution. UNSGs spokeswoman Marie Okabe said that the Secretary-General warmly welcomes todays opening of the crossing at Ledras street in the old town of Nicosia.

    She added that since its closure in 1963 Ledras street has come to represent the division of Cyprus and its re-opening today after more than four decades is a symbol of a new and hopeful environment.

    As Cypriots now embark on what will be a challenging process towards renewed negotiations aimed reunifying the island, the United Nations is fully committed to help them succeed, she concluded.

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