By Constantinos Psilldes
Nicosia Mayor Constantinos Yiorkadjis has sent a letter to President Nicos Anastasiades asking for the opening of all crossing points to the occupied areas within the Nicosia municipality’s city limits.
In a press release issued on Friday, Yiorkadjis stressed the necessity of opening a crossing at Paphos Gate in particular, noting that the area is a focal point for five religions (Christian Orthodox, Muslim, Maronite, Armenian Christian, and Roman Catholic).
The area near the Paphos Gate is the home of a number of churches, including the Church of the Holy Cross and the Virgin Mary Church.
Yiorkadjis argues that the area could be transformed into a “religious promenade” that if properly developed “could be a microcosm of multiculturalism and co-existence of the faithful.”
“Opening up the Paphos Gate crossing point will provide new opportunities to our town while at the same time allowing the faithful easy access to their worship sites, proving our respect towards that basic human right,” his letter said.
Yiorkajdis noted that his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mehmet Harmancı was filing a similar request with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.
“Over the last ten months we had the opportunity to discuss different priorities with Harmanci so we could set up a common agenda. We believe that opening up all crossing points could positively contribute towards facilitating our common struggle for the financial, social and cultural revitalisation of our city” said Yiorkadjis.
Harmanci and Yiorkadjis are not alone in asking for the crossing points to be opened. The letter stresses that they had the support of all religious leaders on the island; Archbishop Chrysostomos, Mufti Talip Atalay, Armenian Archbishop Nareg Alemezian, Maronite Archbishop Joseph Soueif and the Latin representative of the Catholic Church, George Kraj.