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Buffer zone still an ‘open wound’

By Evie Andreou

Nicosia Mayor Constantinos Yiorkadjis and representative of the Turkish Cypriot community in the north of Nicosia, Mehmet Harmanci on Tuesday walked along the buffer zone that divides the capital to discuss for the first time ways to address everyday problems that arise from the neglected area.

Wild vegetation in the area, that remains abandoned since 1974, rain water and derelict buildings ready to collapse have become causes of concern, the two said.

“We are here to register with our own eyes the various problems that the existence of the buffer zone creates on a daily basis to the people of the two communities,” Yiorkadjis said.

It does create a lot a problems, Yiorkadjis added, “such as the drainage water which is a serious problem that needs to be resolved”. He said various buildings are in danger of collapse and need to be protected “to save our cultural heritage”.

Harmanci said that wild vegetation in the buffer zone becomes a fire hazard in the summer.

“The buffer zone remains an open wound for the people living in Nicosia and it hurts them every day to face the problems this creates; we are here to promote a better cooperation between us,” Yiorkadjis said.

Yiorkadjis and Harmanci started their walk from Kykkos street and made their way up to Ayios Kassianos.

In Kykkos street business establishments remain closed and despite the fact they are now derelict the facades of the shops remain intact.

On the street there are Louis Fashion House, an art gallery, a print shop and Diran’s all-things-sewing shop that sits at the corner decorated with Hellenistic style columns.

The shops’ metallic shutters are closed and in some of them, soldiers have cut little windows to observe movement through the shops, whose inner walls have now collapsed, offering a view to the next street.

“It is very sad, time stood still, it is very emotional; it is a tragedy the two communities left decades ago, this is an unacceptable situation and as representatives of both communities we are going to take some progressive steps to overcome these difficulties,” Harmanci said.

The two men pledged to continue the cooperation initiated by former Nicosia mayors and to follow good practices and avoid bad examples.

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