Nicosia: For Koula Hadjipieris and Hassan Chirakli, the wall of hate came down at 10 a.m. on Thursday. That was when Ms. Hadjipieris called her lifelong Turkish Cypriot friend and said: “I’m coming over.” They were words that in Nicosia, the last divided capital in Europe, Mr. Chirakli had hoped to hear all his adult life.
Ledra Street, the barricaded boulevard in the heart of the medieval-walled city that had symbolised the tensions and partition of the island for the best part of half a century, was no more. Finally, Mr. Chirakli and Ms. Hadjipieris could do what they had long wanted — cross it freely.
At 10.45 a.m., as clapping and cheering filled the air and balloons rose into the skies while television crews captured the moment, Ms. Hadjipieris, a Greek Cypriot, walked into the slither of land she had only ever known as the “dead zone,” past crumbling mothballed buildings and rusty gunports and cheery U.N. soldiers, to meet her Turkish Cypriot countryman, Mr. Chirakli, at the other end.
No other locale conjures the effects the passage of time has had on Cyprus, or the durability of fear, as much as the barricades that have kept the island’s Greek and Turkish communities apart on Ledra Street. — ©Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2008