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Cyprus

‘Harassment from Turkish troops’ halts work on iconic Spitfire café

Turkish Cypriot workers at the site on Friday Photo: Christos Theodorides

Nicosia Municipality said Friday it has stopped work to shore up a dilapidated building at Paphos Gate after its crews were repeatedly harassed by Turkish troops.

Work to support the crumbling building, which housed the iconic Spitfire coffeeshop, had started earlier this week under the supervision of UN peacekeepers.

“Unfortunately, because of the continuous harassment from the Turkish occupation army, we are forced to withdraw the crews from the area and suspend work,” the municipality said in a statement on its Facebook page.

“We are sorry because the UN, despite discussions we held in the past one and a half years, have not managed to provide our contractor’s crews the necessary protection to continue the necessary work to prevent collapse of the building.

“We are also sorry because the good cooperation we have with the Turkish Cypriots, as part of the Nicosia Master Plan, did not prevent the interventions and harassment,” the municipality said.

The building lies next to Paphos Gate, an area the divided communities had agreed in the past to demilitarise.

In front of the building is a busy thoroughfare used by hundreds of vehicles and pedestrians on a daily basis. It is understood that the road acts as the buffer zone between the two sides.

Fencing had been placed in front of the building last year and the pavement right in front was closed off to pedestrians to prevent any injuries.

The coffeeshop had been turned into a defensive position by the Turkish military, with machine gun slits, sandbags, and barrels, which blocked an adjacent road that led to north.

Turkish daily Kibris reported on Friday that authorities in the north were planning to repair the building, considered historic.

However, before they could do that, the Greek Cypriot side intervened and the UN did nothing, Kibris said.

The paper said Greek Cypriots had demolished part of the building and stole some material, including its sign.

 



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