International community welcomes Cyprus Government’s decision on Ledra Street wall
The international community, including the United States, the United Nations and the European Union, has welcomed last week’s decision by the Cyprus Government to demolish the wall at Ledra Street in downtown Nicosia, Europe’s last divided capital.
US Ambassador to Nicosia Ronald Schilcher said the Cyprus Government’s move was “very much desired,” and the EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said, “The long-awaited opening of the crossing point would be a major symbolic stap forward in bringing both communities in Nicosia closer together. It would also encourage the necessary efforts aiming at a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.”
UN Representative in Cyprus Michael Moller said the demolition represents a “very welcome and positive contribution of great symbolic significance both to efforts to open a crossing point at this historic location and to create a positive atmosphere in which the search for a comprehensive settlement can flourish.”
On July 8, 2006, the then UN Undersecretary General of Political Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari, announced that Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed to begin a process of bi-communal talks on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people of Cyprus and concurrently those that concern substantive issues – both contributing to a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.
The Cyprus Government’s important goodwill gesture at Ledra Street will help further that goal, but its success now depends on the actions of Turkey to remove its troops from the area and allow free passage.
Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has stressed: “The main issues at state are that of security in the region, the status of the area between the two checkpoints and the control of the area by the UN after the withdrawal of the Turkish troops. What was and still is the obstacle is the refusal of the occupation forces either to withdraw from the area or end their patrols under the bridge which was constructed by the Turkish Cypriot side”.
Moreover, Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pasiardis told the press in Nicosia:
“As we have emphasized the removal of the wall does not mean that all the obstacles involved with the opening of Ledra Street have automatically been removed.”
He added: “It is now up to the Turkish occupying forces, as well as the Turkish side, to cooperate in order to lift all those substantial obstacles, so that Ledra Street can be used by the citizens of the Republic of Cyprus. What matters at this stage is that all other essential problems are resolved, namely the demining of potential minefields, the restoration of the houses which are situated on the street and, primarily, the withdrawal of the Turkish occupying troops from the particular crossing point.”