Sunday, 11 March 2007

Ledra Street Checkpoint Opening

The strapline under the bulldozer in the photo reads "Lokmaci barricade has been demolished [Lokmacı barikatı yıkıldı]". Of course, it being Cyprus, the opening of the Ledra Street checkpoint doesn't mean Ledra Street Checkpoint's open...

I went for a nap on Friday evening, but woke up early on Saturday morning. When I did, bleary-eyed and barely able to understand anything I saw or heard in English, let alone Turkish, I heard the good news that the wall at Ledra Street/Lidras Street/Lokmaci Gate was being pulled down.

Since one of the first things I heard about after I arrived in Cyprus at the start of January 2006 was the approaching opening of that checkpoint and since it had become a joke and a symbol of the lack of change (particularly after nearly exactly identical "news" at the start of January 2007), I was (albeit pleasantly) surprised.

In fact, I assumed I'd misheard or mistranslated it and that CNBC-e was for some inexplicable reason repeating that the Turkish Cypriot administration had taken down the footbridge on their side on the 9th of January.

CNBC-e said something like, "Kıbrıs Rum yönetimi Lokmacı Kapısı’nı yıkmaya başladı", "the Cypriot Greek administration have started to demolish Lokmaci Gate" (the wall partitioning the two communities at the checkpoint). (Obviously, it's now that "Rumlar Lokmacı Barikatı’ndaki duvarı yıktı", "the Greeks have demolished Lokmaci Barricade's wall".)

Phileleftheros (Φιλελεύθερος)'s article on the symbol of division ("Σύμβολο της διαίρεσης"),
"the National Guard pulled down the barricade at the end of Lidras Street[Ledra Street]" ("η Εθνική Φρουρά κατεδάφισε το οδόφραγμα στο τέρμα της οδού Λήδρας", opened that:
Mε την κατεδάφιση του τοίχου στο τέρμα της οδού Λήδρας δεν σημαίνει ότι αρχίζει και η διέλευση πολιτών προς και από τα κατεχόμενα από το συγκεκριμένο σημείο.
I've tried to keep or create a semantic translation (so, once translating "με" - "with" - as "but", etc.), rather than a direct one, which would be unwieldy at best; still, I realised it was quite easy to translate, once I remembered that "αρχίζει" was "beginning" or "starting", rather than "opening" ("ανοίγω").

My rough translation is:
But the pulling down [or dismantling] of the wall at the end of Lidras Street [Ledra Street] doesn't mean that the passage [or movement] of citizens to and from the occupied areas from the [that] particular point is also starting.
Now, the Greek Cypriot administration's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has relayed that,
[Greek Cypriot President Tassos] Papadopoulos said that "to remove any pretext that they (Turks) were ready to open the passage by demolishing the footbridge, tonight we demolished the checkpoint on our side."....

"So now we will see whether the Turkish troops will withdraw so the passage will be opened or not," he added, noting that "of course, if the troops are not withdrawn and the buildings on either side of the street are not strengthened there cannot be a passage."
(Occasionally, it does sound like someone dictated the English translation to the writer, as they say, 'Papadopoulos said "we were told that Turkish troops refused to withdraw, they were resisting on carrhying petrols...."', when they mean, 'Papadopoulos said "we were told that Turkish troops refused to withdraw, they were insisting on carrying on patrols...."')

The Office of the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus conveyed that,
President Mehmet Ali Talat said the Greek Cypriot decision to demolish the wall on the Ledra Street is a positive step. "We had demolished the wall on our side in 2005," said Talat. We have been waiting since then. Now they have demolished their wall. This is a positive step."

Talat, in response to a journalist's question on what will happen next said: "The buffer zone will be repaired and then I hope the crossings will begin. The Greek Cypriot side has some conditions but we do not accept them. They had to demolish their wall, and they did."
The administrations' points-scoring aside (the Turkish troops should go; the only reason there was a footbridge in the North was because their was a viewing platform on the wall in the South, falan falan falan), the key point was the one Tabitha Morgan made on the BBC:
Until these obstacles are overcome, a psychological barrier will remain in place, preventing Greek and Turkish Cypriots mingling in what was - until the division of the city decades ago - Nicosia's main commercial thoroughfare.

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