On April 3, 2008, the Ledra Street/Lokmaci crossing in the commercial sector of Old Nicosia, north and south of the 1974 cease-fire line, was opened. Because it is regarded as the birthplace of the division of the island, the opening of the street has had symbolic significance. However, since it is in a major shopping and historical area of the city, the opening has economic significance as well. Ledra Street/Lokmaci was traditionally Nicosia’s main commercial area. Its history is a reflection of the history of Cyprus, highlighting decades of political, economic, and social division. This study is an investigation into the social and economic impact of the opening of the street, after decades of closure.
Unlike the opening of other crossing points in 2003, the opening of Ledra Street/Lokmaci crossing was the first to connect residential and commercial areas of the same municipality. Because of this unique characteristic, the opening of this crossing has had a social and economic impact on the immediate surrounding of Old Nicosia. The opening of Ledra Street/Lokmaci occurred at a time when the reconciliation had gone in to abeyance following the referenda in April 2004. The opening has brought people from both major ethnic communities together, increased contact among these two communities and broadened the channels of communication and opportunities for interaction.
Our survey demonstrates that the opening has revitalized Nicosia’s traditional commercial centre, on both sides of the Green Line. Thus, the findings suggest that a reunification of the island would not have negative economic consequences for the economy of either community. Despite a global economic downturn, shopkeepers on both sides of the Green Line in Nicosia’s traditional commercial area have generally indicated an increase in customers. The findings are suggestive of the mutually beneficial nature of increased interactions between the two major ethnic communities on the island.