Part of Ledra Street, which symbolically divides the Cypriot capital, Nicosia (photo, from BBC), was reopened on Thursday by local officials, for the first time in 44 years.
The island was split in 1964, during an outbreak of violence between the ethnic Greek and Turkish communities.
Known in Turkish as Lokmaci Street, Ledra Street has become the sixth crossing to open on the island since April 2003, when for the first time Turkish Cypriots lifted entry curbs for Greek Cypriots.
Last year Cyprus’ government demolished a wall and military checkpoint on Ledra Street, and last month the island’s newly elected president, Demetris Christofias, and Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, agreed to reopen Ledra Street, that had been at the centre of the island’s leading shopping district, before it was blocked in the middle with military posts on either side of the dividing line.
At the Ledra Street reopening, Osdil Nami, an aide to Mr Talat, said “we are living a historic day today”. “We are witnessing one of the obstacles to a solution come down.”
Greek and Turkish Cypriots have been divided since Turkey deployed troops after a coup by Greek Cypriots who wanted union with Greece, in 1974.
The mayor of Nicosia, Eleni Mavrou, said that “this is the first step. We hope many more will follow.”
Greek and Turkish Cypriots leaders have also agreed to resume talks on reunifying the island. In 2004, a UN plan failed to reunite the island when the Greek Cypriots voted against it in a referendum, even though the Turkish Cypriots overwhelmingly voted in favour of the plan.