Norwegian-funded meeting place opened in Cyprus
For more than 30 years, the building was deserted and falling into ruin in the buffer zone that divides the Cyprian capital, Nicosia. Until recently it was inaccessible for both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. It is now opened as a meeting place for the whole population on the island.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said in a message to the centre, “I am proud that Norway has helped to finance this unique meeting place, and I hope that it will foster deeper understanding between the people on this divided island.”
The heads of both the Greek Cypriot community, Demetris Christofias, and the Turkish Cypriot community, Dervis Oruglu, took part in the opening, which attracted considerable interest from the media.
The building has a history. In the 1950s, it was situated right across the street from the most luxurious hotel in Nicosia. From 1974 it found itself in the middle of the demilitarised buffer zone. Only a small shop on the ground floor that produced and sold T-shirts to the UN peacekeeping forces remained.
Now, in 2011, it has been revamped as a “Home for Cooperation”. Situated in an area that used to be inaccessible for people from both north and south of the buffer zone, it represents a unique meeting place.
The centre is to be an arena for young people, students, teachers, researchers and others who want an opportunity to meet and take part in dialogues and discussions. It houses a library, an archive, office facilities for NGOs, conference facilities and a café.
Through the EEA and Norway Grants, Norway has provided most of the financing (NOK 6 million). Norway was represented at the opening by Ambassador Ingrid Schulerud and Ambassador Sverre Stub