Barricaded street opens in Cyprus after 44 years (video)

Türkiye Materials 3 April 2008 11:48 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - A barricaded pedestrian shopping street in the heart of the divided capital of Nicosia, symbolising decades of the Mediterranean island's division, opened to the public on Thursday for the first time in 44 years.

The opening of Ledra Street is part of a landmark deal between Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat on March 21 who agreed to resume peace negotiations by the end of June.

The area opened on Thursday in the presence of UN officials as well as the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot mayor of Nicosia.

The reopened area links the two sides of Ledra Street, closed since 1963 and is around 75-80 metres long. It was hitherto considered no-man's-land and patrolled by UN peacekeepers.

United Nations demining experts as well as Greek and Turkish Cypriot engineers had been preparing the crossing for pedestrian traffic - paving roads, installing street and securing crumbling buildings with scaffolding for the past week.

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