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Reopening of key Cyprus crossing raises hopes for settlement – UN official

Reopening of key Cyprus crossing raises hopes for settlement – UN official

UNFICYP on patrol
The top United Nations official in Cyprus welcomed today’s opening, after more than four decades, of the Ledra Street crossing in Nicosia, calling it a historic symbol of the renewed drive to bring together the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities on the Mediterranean island.

“We all know that the opening of Ledra Street does not mean the Cyprus problem has been solved,” acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General Elizabeth Spehar said at today’s ceremony in Nicosia. “That will require much more work among Cypriots as well as support from all those who wish to see a just and durable settlement in this country.

“But the opening does give us a glimpse of what is possible when those elements come together,” she added.

Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed to open the crossing point in a UN-hosted meeting on 21 March, during which they also agreed to start full-fledged negotiations within three months on resolving the long-running dispute on the island.

The opening was also welcomed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who called it “the symbol of a new and hopeful environment.”

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban pledged the world body’s support “as the Cypriots now embark on what will be a challenging process towards renewed negotiations aimed at reunifying the island.”

In a related development, the new Force Commander of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), Rear Admiral Mario César Sánchez Debernardi of Peru, assumed his duties today.

Established in March 1964 following the outbreak of inter-community violence in Cyprus, UNFICYP is tasked with preventing a recurrence of fighting, contributing to a return to normal conditions and the maintenance of law and order.