UNFICYP remains engaged in solving Ledra Street crossing point issue
Nicosia, Nov 29 (CNA) - The United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) sees significant obstacles in opening the Ledra Street crossing point in Nicosia between the government-controlled areas and the areas under Turkish occupation, but will nevertheless remain actively engaged in discussions with both sides in its continuing efforts to help resolve the issue.
UNFICYP Spokesman Brian Kelly told CNA today that ''it is unfortunately apparent that there is serious disagreement about how to proceed between the two parties,'' noting that ''obviously UNFICYP would like this to be a successful bilateral collaboration and is anxious to get the Ledra Street crossing open.''
''However, there are significant obstacles and we will remain actively engaged in discussions with both sides in our continuing efforts to help resolve the issue,'' he added.
Asked if the Turkish occupation forces were violating the status quo in the buffer zone, Kelly said that ''obviously this is an issue that is being discussed with our people.''
''The only thing that I would say is that the construction undertaken unilaterally by the authorities in the north is in our view outside the buffer zone,'' he pointed out.
Replying to questions, Kelly said UNFICYP was talking with ''the full range of officials on both sides,'' adding that ''we talk with the military authorities and the appropriate political authorities.''
Invited to comment on press reports that the occupation forces were obstructing UNFICYP inspections of buildings in the area, Kelly said he was ''not aware of those problems'' and declined to comment on the reports.
Asked how long it would take to open the crossing point, Kelly said ''this is a matter for the two sides not for UNFICYP to determine.''
''We will make our best efforts available to both sides as facilitators and we just continue to point out that these are bilateral arrangements. Unilateral efforts, however well intentioned, do not necessarily help and in this circumstance it is for the parties to move ahead with this. Clearly a lot of people have anticipated this opening, not least some political figures at municipal level on either side and hopefully we will all get back on course and be able to resolve those difficulties. But the resolution of the difficulties is not up to the UN, it is up to the two sides and so we will, as usual, contribute our best efforts and hopefully help to resolve the issue,'' he said.
Replying to other questions, Kelly said ''the basic understanding is, and both sides are aware of this, that an EU-funded project under the UNDP umbrella was in place to ensure the passageway or the corridor through the buffer zone at the Ledra Street crossing point and that project, it has been indicated, would take probably something like eight weeks to complete, but there is no indication as to when it would start.''
''Both sides are fully aware that the passageway within the buffer zone, the corridor as it were, at that crossing point needs certain work to be done in order that the safe passage can be assured for people using the crossing point. That is a matter of our responsibility and concern as well. There are buildings adjacent to that area that are in a state of disrepair, that have been empty and in a state of deterioration since 1974,'' he said.
He added that ''there is other work that needs to be done'' and pointed out that ''all of that falls within that particular project.''
''It is not just a matter of two sides agreeing that they will open it up. That is a bit like saying that you have a person building a door on one side of a building and another building a door on the other side of the building and then saying to people well we've done everything and missing to point out that there is no floor,'' he pointed out.
Asked what kind of pass the Ledra Street crossing point would be, Kelly said he did not have those details.