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Security Council hails removal of buffer wall in Cypriot capital

Security Council hails removal of buffer wall in Cypriot capital

Amb. Dumisani S. Kumalo
The Security Council today welcomed the removal by Greek Cypriots of a wall in the long-running buffer zone dividing the island into northern and southern segments, voicing hope that similar confidence-building measures will lead to the resumption of talks aimed at reaching a durable peace deal on the Mediterranean island.

In a statement to the press, the 15-member Council said it hoped both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots would be able to agree quickly on the practicalities for improving pedestrian access now that the wall has been demolished.

Ambassador Dumisani S. Kumalo of South Africa, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency this month, said members hoped the removal would serve as a step towards opening a new crossing point for members of the two communities to move across the so-called Green Line buffer zone.

The press statement follows the demolition of the wall at the southern end of Ledra Street in the old town of Nicosia, the capital, earlier this month. In January, the Turkish Cypriots removed a footbridge at the northern end of the Green Line that runs along Ledra Street.

Today’s statement also welcomed that move by the Turkish Cypriots and urged both communities to work with UN to open the Ledra Street crossing.

Mr. Kumalo said the Council also called for the creation of bi-communal working groups and technical committees to help prepare the ground for full-fledged negotiations between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

It also urged both communities to implement the agreement reached on 8 July last year that includes bi-communal discussion of issues affecting the daily life of people while also addressing other substantive issues, both of which should contribute to a comprehensive settlement.

On 9 March Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Michael Møller issued a statement calling the wall demolition “a very welcome and positive contribution of great symbolic significance.”

The Security Council extended its mandate yet again in December until 15 June 2007 after the latest UN report cited the lack of a comprehensive political settlement and voiced concern about the attitudes of both sides.