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European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy
Opening of the Limnitis/Yeşilırmak crossing point
Official visit to Cyprus
Nicosia, 14 October 2010
Your Excellencies, Honourable guests, Dear residents of Kato Pyrgos and Yeşilırmak, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honoured to be here today amongst you to mark the opening of the seventh crossing point in Cyprus.
In the early 1990s, I have personally witnessed another opening. One that led to swift change and which transformed a huge part of the European continent. That opening was driven by the strong desire of the people to overcome an existing physical and political division in Europe, to tear down a wall that for a third of a century had kept apart half a city, half a country and half a continent.
And see what the result is; a European continent united, a European Union of 27 member countries with a population of nearly half a billion people, living peacefully together.
The European project will however not be complete without a solution of the Cyprus problem. Since 2004 it has been the EU policy – and I quote - "to ensure that the people of Cyprus will soon achieve their shared destiny of a united Cyprus in the European Union".
Today's opening is an encouraging signal.
Today here in the midst of the beautiful surrounding of the Tylliria mountains, we are witnessing another example of this pursuit of peace. Another physical barrier is gone. Slowly but surely, confidence building measures are spreading.
The European Union is fully behind these confidence building measures and is proud to have contributed with its financial support to some of the major landmarks of this pursuit of peace. Since 2005, the European Union has supported the opening of three crossing points, including Limnitis/Yeşilırmak.
The EU is also the major contributor to the efforts of the Committee on Missing Persons helping many Cypriot families to come to terms with tragic events of the past I will have the privilege to meet some of these families later today.
We can only conclude that there is progress in Cyprus. Your Excellencies, that is encouraging.
Let me thank the local village leaders for their determination in wanting this to happen. The opening of this crossing point will inject new life and optimism in your communities.
Let me thank the UN and UNDP for their relentless work in facilitating confidence building measures.
Lastly, let me praise the two Cypriot leaders, Demetris Christofias and Derviş Eroğlu for their determination to pursue an overall settlement of the Cyprus problem for the benefit of all Cypriots.
I am convinced that you can manage the historical task to arrive at a comprehensive settlement. A settlement that reunites the island; that does away with all crossing points and the Green Line; that makes the only "Green" remaining, the beautiful green of these magnificent mountains.
We will spare no efforts to see this happen. The European Commission will continue to be your ally and friend in this difficult but achievable task. Thank you