Germany welcomes reopening of Cyprus crossing

Other News Materials 3 April 2008 20:03 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) -  German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Thursday's opening of a symbolic crossing in the Cyprus capital of Nicosia was a signal for talks to overcome the island's division.

"Ledra Street was a symbol of division for far too long. I urge all Cypriots to turn the new crossing into a symbol for moving closer together," he said in a statement.

"I call on both sides to use the spirit of this occasion to act forcefully to move ahead with the talks, "the minister said.

In a ceremony attended by UN officials, Greek and Turkish Cypriot officials opened the barricaded Ledra street, which had come to serve as a symbol of the island's decades-long division.

The reopening is part of a landmark deal between Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, who agreed to resume peace negotiations by the end of June.

Ledra Street had been barricaded since 1964 when British peacekeepers decided to divide the street between Nicosia's Greek and Turkish communities as a result of inter-communal fighting.

The entire island has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the northern third of the island in response to a brief Greek- inspired coup.