Van den Brande inaugurates “Open Ledra Street” to support Cypriot peace process

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The Committee of the Regions (CoR) has taken the initiative on 7 October to rename its 5th floor atrium “Open Ledra Street." The re-opening last April of the famous Ledra street crossing point in the heart of Nicosia (Cyprus), forty-four years after it had been closed, created new hope and momentum for the peace process on the island.

Nicosia's communities, represented by Eleni Mavrou, leader of the Greek-Cyprus community, and Munur Doratli, representative of the Turkish-Cyprus community, attended the official ceremony in Brussels and were welcomed by European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering, CoR President Luc Van den Brande and Commissioner Danuta Hübner.

"The symbolic Ledra street in our building is a sign of the full support that CoR members give to the renewed peace process in Cyprus" said President Van den Brande. "In naming one of our central reception areas "Open Ledra Street" we underline that local and regional authorities play a crucial role in breaking down barriers, facilitating dialogue between local communities and establishing peace and stability. Brussels' Open Ledra Street will remind the thousands of European regional and local politicians who regularly gather in our institution what local and regional politicians can achieve, when supported by their communities" he added.

Hans-Gert Pöttering stressed that "it is the responsibility of the EU to help Cyprus, Europe's last partitioned state, to end occupation, re-unify, and restore the fundamental freedoms of its people. Let this Atrium be a reminder that by emphasizing the values and convictions that unite us instead of those that separate us and by focusing on the possibilities of the future instead of the difficulties of the past, we can reach solutions to long-lasting problems and improve the overall well-being of the general population."

Commissioner Hübner declared "The European Commission stands ready to play its part in facilitating any bi-communal project to continue the rapprochement and rebuilding of trust between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. Local and regional leaders have a key role in setting up such initiatives whenever possible."

On 3 April the leaders of the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities of Nicosia opened the Ledra Street crossing forty-four years after it had been closed.
On 3 September, the Greek Cypriot leader, Demetris Christofias, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, formally launched fully fledged negotiations aimed at reaching a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
The European Union contributed to the upgrading of the area around Ledra Street. Since 2001, the structural funds have funded projects with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the context of the "partnership for the future" programme which supports the rehabilitation of the old centre of Nicosia.