NEWS

New Cyprus crossing sparks hope

A new border crossing between the Greek and Turkish communities on Cyprus opened yesterday, fueling hope among mediators that slow-moving peace talks will be reinvigorated. The 4-kilometer stretch of road winding through hills seeks to link one of the most remote regions in northwest Cyprus in an area hemmed in by the sea, towering mountains and a closely patrolled truce line dividing the two sides for decades. «Today’s opening is an encouraging signal… We are witnessing another example of this pursuit of peace and another difficult barrier has gone,» said EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule at a brief opening ceremony. «We will spare no effort to see a settlement happen.» The Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot communities started peace talks in 2008, the latest in a series of bids to solve one of the world’s most enduring conflicts. Both sides agree in principle to reunite Cyprus as a bizonal federation. But disagreements remain on issues ranging from power-sharing to the rights of thousands of internally displaced people and how much territory each side will retain in a deal. The opening of the Limnitis-Yesilirmak crossing satisfies a decades-long demand by Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot area residents to shorten travel times across the divide there and spur the region’s development. «For us, it’s a miracle. The village is reborn; it’s alive again,» said 63-year-old Maria Georgiou, one of dozens of Kato Pyrgos village residents on the southern, Greek-Cypriot side of the divide celebrating the opening. The crossing gives the villagers access to the capital Nicosia via a direct route that leads through the northern part of the island, reducing a 200-kilometer round trip to a 70-kilometer trip and cutting the time by about 90 minutes. (Combined reports)