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Cyprus government proposes "way forward" as UNFICYP says Turkish works at Ledra Street must cease
2005-12-08 17:30:07

Nicosia, Dec 8 - The UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) has stressed that construction works undertaken by the Turkish side to open a crossing point at Ledra Street should cease, and that unilateral initiatives are incompatible with the spirit of the confidence building measures.

In a press release, UNFICYP states that it is ''unable to support or facilitate the opening of the proposed crossing at Ledra Street in the absence of the consent of both parties,'' adding that ''the mission's view is that while the construction undertaken by the Turkish side is outside the buffer zone, being to the north of the ceasefire line, it should cease.''

''Both sides should resume efforts to find mutually acceptable arrangements for the opening of Ledra Street crossing,'' UNFICYP adds.

It also said that it has ''protested the fact that, even as the Security Council met yesterday in New York to discuss the Secretary General's report on the renewal of the mission's mandate, Turkish Cypriot workers seeking to clear rubble from an area adjacent to the construction site crossed into the buffer zone.''

''Last month, despite repeated cautionings by UNFICYP and other UN officials not to raise hopes unnecessarily, representatives on both sides persisted in proclaiming that the Ledra Street crossing could be open by Christmas. This presupposed the parties' mutual agreement on a work plan and schedule and a joint commitment to proceed. Instead, the Turkish Cypriot side opted to act preemptively to execute this project, and persists unilaterally toward an objective that by definition must be bilateral,'' UNFICYP noted.

UNFICYP was also reviewing the proposal submitted yesterday by the Cyprus government, aiming to break the current deadlock and titled ''the way forward''.

In the proposal, the government stressed the hope for the opening of Ledra Street “as this will facilitate the development and general revitalization of the area, as well as economic integration and increased contacts between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, as per the 26 April 2004 EU GAERC conclusions”.

However, the government considers that in any practical arrangement for the opening of the crossing point all new structures to the south of Ermou Street and on both sides of Ledra Street must be removed, noting that “the passageway must be at a ground – level and hurdle – free, which in practice means the removal of the bridge”.

It further suggests that UNFICYP consider defining an area which would include the section of Ledra Street from Ermou Street up to the National Guard post as a civil-use area. In this framework, the Nicosia Masterplan team, within a period of six months to one year could be requested to submit a proposal for the restoration of buildings in this civil-use area.

The government undertakes to ask the European Union to fund the projects, the proposal adds.

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