Nicosia, Apr 5 : For the first time in 45 years, the inhabitants of the divided city of Nicosia in the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, walked freely the full length of Ledra Street, the street that symbolised Cyprus' tragic history.
The barricades that have severed the Street were torn down at dawn on Thursday, only hours before the long-awaited crossing was finally opened to the public.
Nicosia Mayor Eleni Mavrou, speaking at the opening ceremony, said, "No barricade symbolises so strongly the island's division or decades of failed reunification attempts as much as this one. This Street remained frozen in time with the bullet-pocked derelict buildings reminding us of the tragedy of our island."
Presidential Commissioner said, "We aspire to the elimination of crossings and the opening of roads in this country for all its citizens, with no obstructions, as a consequence of its reunification."
Turkish Cypriot negotiator Ozdil Nami said, "We are witnessing the overthrow of one of the obstacles to the reunification of the island. It has been a very symbolic crossing point, almost half a century of division has been symbolized here."
Hundreds of people gathered, beating drums and chanting songs of peace, some weeping with joy.
Politicians on both side and the UN Chief of Mission Elizabeth Spehar hailed the development, but warned that this did not mean "solution to the Cyprus problem. But it does give us a glimpse when all the elements come together," she added.