NEW YORK – For four decades, Ledra Street in the heart of Nicosia had been a symbol of a divided Cyprus. And then, two years ago this April, the wall that split the capital into north and south was opened. Slowly, people who had not mingled for 44 years began to renew their ties and rediscover one another. It was a window onto what the future might bring.
Last week, I visited the Ledra Street crossing. Officially, I was there to inaugurate a reconstruction plan for buildings that had fallen into disrepair in the old buffer zone. More personally, I wanted to see for myself the divide that for too long had kept Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots apart. As I walked the street, people from both communities crowded around and began chanting, “Solution now! Solution now!”
As a Korean, I know only too well the pain of a land divided. I also know how difficult reconciliation can be. That is why I went to Cyprus – to show my personal support for the efforts to reunify the island, and to push for further progress.
Cyprus is at a critical juncture. The Greek Cypriot leader, Demetris Christofias, and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart, Mehmet Ali Talat, are working hard to reach an agreement. But it will elude them without a further concerted push.