Thursday, 3 April 2008

Ledra Street crossing opens

A sixth crossing point between the free and occupied areas of Cyprus was opened today on Ledra Street, the main thoroughfare in Nicosia.

As I said in a post last month: ‘it was the Turkish Cypriots who first put up barricades on Ledra Street; initially in 1958 as part of the “from Turk to Turk” campaign aimed at preventing Turkish Cypriots from shopping at Greek shops. The barricades were taken down in 1960, but erected by the Turkish Cypriots, in collusion with British “peacekeepers”, again in 1963 when Turkish Cypriots stepped up their terrorist campaign to partition the island and ethnically cleansed Greeks and, particularly, Armenians from the Turkish quarter of Nicosia’.

I also pointed out that in an attempt to give the occupation regime the attributes of a state, the Turks insist Greek Cypriots show passports or other identity documents to cross into the occupied areas. This procedure will continue to apply at the Ledra Street crossing.

Naturally, Greek Cypriots resent having to show passports to travel in their own country, and many refuse to do so and forego the chance to visit the homes, land, villages and towns from which they were ethnically cleansed in 1974 following the Turkish invasion of the island. Those Greek Cypriots who do cross into occupied Cyprus will, in most cases, only do so once, sickened and distressed by the settlement in their homes and villages of Turkish colonists or Turkish Cypriots who were relocated to the north at the behest of Turkey after 1974; the building on their land of hotels, villas, holiday complexes, casinos and so on; and the crude attempt to wipe out Greek culture in the occupied areas – for example, the destruction of churches or their conversion into mosques.

To be fair, most Greek Cypriots who return to their homes – those that have been left standing that is – often meet no resistance from Turkish Cypriots when they ask to look around. Turkish settlers feel more threatened by Greek Cypriots returning to their properties, but many understand the obvious need refugees have to revive memories of their homes and the lives that were led there. Those most hostile, confrontational and insensitive to Greek Cypriot refugees’ pilgrimage have been British expatriates who have taken over usurped Greek properties, particularly in the Kyrenia district, to build their 'dream holiday homes'. I suppose these people don't like to be reminded that they are thieves and crooks.

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