Turkish, Greek Cypriots launch new road work

Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders formally launched work to create a new road linking populations in the remote northwest of the island.

Turkish, Greek Cypriots launch new road work

Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders formally launched work on Monday to create a new road linking populations in the remote northwest of the island.

The 7.7 km (5 mile) stretch of road will be a crucial transportation link for residents of northwest Cyprus, hemmed in by mountains, a ceasefire line, and the sea.

In a dale resplendent with the blooms of spring and overlooked by a United Nations observation post on a nearby hill, Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, and President Demetris Christofias, the Greek Cypriot leader, scattered earth across a dirt track in a symbolic gesture for the commencement of road works.

In comments to Reuters during a rare joint appearance, both leaders paid tribute to the Turkish and Greek Cypriot residents of the area who lobbied hard for the road to open.

"We hope that this crossing point will be the last one (to open) and we shall live in a united Cyprus very soon without any crossing points," Christofias told Reuters.

Talat said he agreed that the road would be a good step forward.

"I share the wish of my friend Demetris for this to be the last crossing point. We need and we want to unify our island and get rid of all crossing points," he said.

Once completed, the road, partly financed by the European Commission and the United States, will be the seventh checkpoint linking Cyprus's two communities.

Talat and Christofias started peace talks in 2008, seeking to unite Cyprus as a federation. Progress has been slow.

The area, known as Tylliria, is one of the most remote in Cyprus. There was ethnic upheaval in the region in 1964, which is when a free flow of civilian traffic stopped.

United Nations peacekeepers from Argentina monitor a buffer zone running through valleys and mountains where moufflon, Cyprus's timid and indigenous wild sheep, roam in herds.

Yesilirimak, known as Limnitis in Greek, lies one mountain away from the neighbouring Greek Cypriot hamlet of Pyrgos on the Greek Cypriot side of the line.

But in order to get from one to the other today it takes almost four hours, with travellers almost completing a circle through mountains and low grounds to get to their destination.

Musa Seral, the community leader of Yesilirimak, said the checkpoint would boost contacts between the two neighbouring villages.

"Pyrgos will be five minutes down the road, not three hours. This place will get a life again," he said.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Mart 2010, 23:18
YORUM EKLE