The island of Cyprus was not divided in 1974 but in 1963, im-mediately after attacks by armed Greek Cypriot militia on Turkish quarters and unarmed Turkish Cypriot civilians.
The notorious wall of Ledra Street and the Lokmacı Barricade, in the very heart of the Venetian-built old city of Nicosia, were constructed early in 1964.
The Ledra Street eyesore represents the division for the Greek quarter just as its counterpart, the Lokmacı Barricade, does for the Turkish, and was the first checkpoint between Turkish and Greek Cy-priots.
Both barriers remained for 43 years, but the Greek guard post and the notorious wall in the Greek quarter at the bottom of Ledra Street, like Lokmacı, is now history.
There has been a great deal of stubbornness from both sides re-garding the opening of the crossing point for over a year.
During the years of division the buildings beyond the former checkpoint reached an extremely state of dilapidation, thus the area had to be closed to the public for some time while the necessary
What happens next is not just a matter for the Turkish Cypriot side; the Greek Cypriot administration is demanding progress in the opening of a new checkpoint, which will probably be named the Ermou, Lokmacı or Ledra Street crossing.
Discussions have not yet reached the thorny issues of local mili-tary disengagement or the removal of provocative signs and symbols, as demanded by the Greek Cypriot side.
Greek Cypriots insists on Turkish and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) flags and symbols being removed from the area, a demand which angered the Turkish side. These issues may well prove to be a stumbling block to an early opening of the crossing, with the Turkish Cypriot side objecting to the Greek Cypriot administration’s telling them what can and cannot be done on “their side” of the crossing.
Furthermore the UN Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) had differences with the Turkish Cypriots regarding the interpretation of the mapping of the buffer zone, leading to a high-level agreement in early 2006 to resolve the dispute.
Although the UNFICYP still receives patrol reports highlighting these differences, it is obvious that the Greek and Turkish sides had different opinions on the buffer zone’s delineation.
For example, the Greek Cypriot administration saw the recently demolished Turkish bridge as being within the UN buffer zone, whereas the UN did not. The opening of Ledra Street is inevitable, but may take a little more time.
The main issue for the two sides to match their criteria for the opening of the crossing point is whether this would mean the demilita-rization or disengagement of military forces.
It seems clear that the “Guns and Boots” will form the core of fu-ture negotiations on the Ermou, Lokmacı or Ledra Street crossing.
However, this should not be used by the Greek Cypriot adminis-tration in such a way that it draws attention away from what is really happening.
Real issues, such as what is going on in Brussels, the final deci-sion of European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn con-cerning direct trade and the euro fiasco, should top of everyone’s agendas.
In fact the whole exercise was perfectly timed to distract observers from the shambles the Greek Cypriot administration has got itself into over the EU and direct trade with the Turkish Cypriots.