Buttenheim: Deryneia, Lefka Aplici crossings “moving ahead”
The opening of the Deryneia and Lefka Aplici crossing points in Famagusta and Nicosia Districts respectively is moving ahead, stated outgoing UN Secretary-General Special Representative in Cyprus, Lisa Buttenheim, on Friday.
Buttenheim was addressing a reception held at Ledra Palace to bid Cyprus farewell, before being succeeded by Canadian Elizabeth Spehar.
“The two crossings agreed by the leaders last year, Deryneia and Lefka Aplici, are both moving ahead. Maybe not as quickly as we might have hoped, but they are both moving ahead and I can say that because I know,” outlined Buttenheim.
The UN official expressed her point of view that “the opening of crossings makes a huge positive difference to Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
“It is so important to see the leaders remain committed to breaking down the barriers that divide the island,” added Buttenheim.
The opening of the Deryneia and Lefka Aplici crossing points were announced at a meeting the two leaders held on May 28, 2015, as part of a series of confidence building measures.
In the past several years, many crossing points have opened to facilitate the movement of people to and from the island`s northern illegally occupied Turkish areas.
Buttenheim expressed gratitude for the “painstaking and dangerous” work done by Cambodian demining teams “without which the opening of crossings would not have been possible.”
Buttenheim also said that “today, Cyprus is closer to a solution than it has been in a long while.”
Buttenheim further remarked: “To depart when the talks are going well with two leaders who are deeply committed to reunifying this island, renews my conviction that a comprehensive, just and sustainable settlement is possible and truly within reach.”
Buttenheim is due to take up the position of Assistant Secretary-General for Field Support at the UN headquarters.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and illegally occupied its northern third. UN-backed talks between Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, resumed in May 2015 aiming to reunify the island under a federal roof.
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