Nicosia's Ledra Street, for decades a powerful symbol of division, has now been reopened for pedestrians. The opening of a new crossing was agreed a few days ago by Demetris Christofias, the President of the Republic of Cyprus, and Ali Talat, the leader of the island's Turkish-Cypriot community, when they met to resume direct talks on the island's future.
Commenting on these developments, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier today (3 April) issued the following statement from Bucharest, where he is attending the NATO Summit:
"I congratulate the Cypriot people on this historic decision. On such an occasion we Germans especially feel a close bond with our Cypriot friends.
I know how powerfully symbolic the opening of a wall can be for the residents of a divided city. For far too long Ledra Street was a symbol of separation. I encourage all Cypriots to make the new crossing a symbol of coming together.
The opening of Ledra Street does not mean a solution to the Cyprus conflict is already at hand. But it sends the right message for the opening of negotiations aimed at resolving it. I call on both sides to bring to these talks a firm sense of purpose and pursue them in this spirit."
During Germany's EU Presidency the Federal Government repeatedly used its close contacts with all concerned to work for progress on the Cyprus issue and in particular the opening of Ledra Street.