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Cypriots demolish wall in Nicosia March 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Occupied, Politics.

Greece’s Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday praised the Cypriot government’s unexpected demolition of a wall that has divided Nicosia for decades, calling it a “brave, unilateral, decision of goodwill”, and appealed to Turkish-Cypriot leaders to reciprocate.

“We hope for a response from the other side,” Karamanlis said, echoing comments by Cypriot cabinet members as well as European Union and United Nations officials.

A bulldozer began dismantling the 4-meter-high concrete wall stretching along Nicosia’s Ledra Street on Thursday night and finished early yesterday.

“We expect, after this unilateral move, a decision to remove the Turkish army from the area in order to open the crossing point for citizens,” Cyprus Foreign Minister Giorgos Lillikas said on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn also appealed for action. “I urge all concerned parties to use the momentum created by this courageous decision and rapidly take the next steps to effectively open the Ledra Street crossing,” Rehn said, noting that such a move “would… encourage efforts aiming at a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.”

The UN’s special representative in Cyprus, Michael Moller, spoke of “a very welcome and positive contribution of great significance.”

There were no official comments from Ankara yesterday but an adviser to Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, Rasit Pertev, was upbeat. “The dynamism created by this move will lead to the opening of the crossing,” he said.

The wall was situated in the Ledra Street, the main tourist street of Nicosia. It indicated the so-called ceasefire “green line”, the U.N. buffer zone, after the Turkish military invasion and occupation of the northern part of Cyprus in 1974. Nicosia is the last divided capital of Europe.

The “green line” crossing regime was facilitated in Cyprus in 2003. Since that time some ten million people have crossed the demilitarised zone, most of whom were Cyprus Turks working in the southern part of the island.

Cyprus has been divided according to the ethnic principle since 1974, when Turkey invaded the northern part of the Republic of Cyprus after a short coup d’etat, supported by the Greek military junta. As a result of the Turkish military invasion, 37 per cent of Cyprus territory in its northern part was occupied by the Turkish troops. In 1983 Cypriot Turks self-proclaimed the creation of the illegal Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which was not recognized by the world community.

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