The Famagusta municipality on Tuesday strongly condemned the name change of the town’s main thoroughfare, Kennedy Avenue to Semih Sancar Street, which was announced on Monday following the visit of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s to Varosha.
The avenue, which was called Kennedy Avenue because of the assassination of the American President on November 22, 1963, is now named after the chief of the general staff of Turkey from 1973 to 1978. The name change came on the anniversary of Kennedy’s death.
“It is a huge provocation and disrespect on the one hand because he is the chief of staff of the Turkish armed forces who was at the helm of the Turkish army during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and on the other because it is an attempt to change both historically and topographically one of the once main historical and busy streets of our city,” the Famagusta municipality statement reads.
“Finally, we express our unequivocal regret to the Ambassador of the United States of America in Cyprus, Mrs. Judith Garber for this offensive action, emphasising that the only legal and recognised authority which has the right to proceed with the naming of streets is the municipality of Famagusta.”
The Turkish side has opened part of the town and had spruced up certain areas ahead of a visit by Erdogan last week.
It includes a bicycle lane, which Turkey’s ambassador to the north used on Sunday to tour the dilapidated town, which Ankara wants to reopen.
Visitors can now rent a bicycle, one of 600 donated by Konya municipality in Turkey, to tour the area, which had been closed since August 1974 when it was abandoned by its Greek Cypriot population ahead of the advancing Turkish army.