Viewing cable 07NICOSIA80
Title: NEW MAYOR OUTLINES PRIORITIES, AMONG THEM TIP

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07NICOSIA802007-01-29 15:04:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Nicosia
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DE RUEHNC #0080/01 0291504
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 291504Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY NICOSIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7471
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0761
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NICOSIA 000080 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SE, G/TIP 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL UNFICYP TIP CY
SUBJECT: NEW MAYOR OUTLINES PRIORITIES, AMONG THEM TIP 
 
¶1.  (U) SUMMARY:  The fight against trafficking in persons 
"ought to be a priority," new Nicosia Mayor Eleni Mavrou told 
the Ambassador January 26.  Revealing the municipality had 
not yet finalized its strategic plans, Mavrou promised her 
team would search out areas where it could take action on 
TIP.  Turning to other initiatives, she hoped to revitalize 
the Old City by eliminating red-tape that hurt business, 
penalizing absentee landlords whose properties lacked upkeep, 
and luring former residents back home.  Dedicated to 
bi-communal interaction, Mavrou already had engaged her 
Turkish Cypriot counterpart and pledged intent to identify 
additional areas of cooperation.  She lamented the slow pace 
of UN-brokered negotiations on the Cyprus Problem, however, 
believing a grand gesture -- such as opening the checkpoint 
at Ledra Street, the historic center of Nicosia -- was in 
order.  Improved party-to-party contacts might also bring the 
communities closer, and Mavrou claimed positive atmospherics 
surrounded the recent meeting between her AKEL and the 
ideologically similar Turkish Cypriot CTP.  END SUMMARY. 
 
A Full Plate Awaits 
------------------- 
 
¶2.  (SBU) Mavrou won the mayorship in December in a bloody 
four-candidate race.  A former AKEL MP, she is perhaps the 
RoC's most prominent "Yes" voter, referring to the failed 
2004 referendum that sought to reunify the island.  Despite a 
current political environment that favors hard-liners, she 
maintained a pro-solution slant in the election run-up, 
despite it costing her votes.  To offer congratulations and 
the Embassy's hopes for a close relationship with the 
municipality, the Ambassador January 26 called on the 
engaging mayor. 
 
¶3.  (U) Experience as a municipal councilor ten years earlier 
had made her learning curve less steep, Mavrou asserted.  Yet 
a desk as cluttered as any political officer's betrayed hopes 
of afternoons off.  The city's needs were many, she 
explained:  better roads, cleaner streets, and economic 
growth.  Certain problems were shared with the dozen 
municipalities comprising greater Nicosia; a high priority 
involved improving coordination with her fellow mayors and 
lobbying the central government with a common voice.  Other 
maladies were her city's alone, however.  Old Nicosia, for 
example, while benefiting greatly from the partially 
USG-funded Master Plan, still suffered economic hardship. 
Wealthy residents had left for the suburbs and in their place 
had arrived third-world immigrants, heavy consumers of 
municipal services. 
 
¶4.  (U) One only had to walk Nicosia's streets to realize 
Cyprus suffered a TIP problem, Mavrou admitted after the 
Ambassador had raised the subject.  A former MP whose 
committee had prepared a well-received report on trafficking, 
she had interacted with Embassy personnel and knew first-hand 
our interest in combating the problem on the island.  "This 
ought to be a city priority," Mavrou exclaimed.  City 
leaders, consumed with preparing strategic plans, had not 
focused on TIP, but Mavrou pledged to seek out areas where 
the municipality might take action.  (Note:  Like other 
jurisdictions, the City of Nicosia regulates licensing for 
businesses operating within city limits and could act to 
sanction and/or shut "cabarets" for various violations.  End 
Note.) 
 
¶5.  (U) Growth in greater Nicosia favored the suburbs, Mavrou 
allowed; she hoped to reverse the trend.  As long as the city 
remained divided, however, hope for development at the city's 
northern extreme looked scant.  Further south possibilities 
seemed better, but Old Nicosia continued to suffer from 
scores of vacant, decaying properties.  The municipality was 
considering tax breaks for developers and subsidies to 
attract new residents.  Additionally, municipal leaders were 
considering imposing tax or other penalties on landlords who 
failed to maintain their buildings or left them vacant. 
 
Ledra a Key to Development 
-------------------------- 
 
¶6.  (U) Historic heart of the old city and of Nicosia proper, 
Ledra Street has been blocked for traffic since 
inter-communal violence broke out in 1963.  "Far more than 
the other checkpoints, Ledra represents a tie between our 
communities, and opening it to pedestrian traffic would prove 
tremendously symbolic as well as a boon to local merchants," 
Mavrou asserted.  By meeting a Greek Cypriot demand and 
ordering an offending footbridge demolished, Turkish leader 
Mehmet Ali Talat had taken a welcome first step.  The 
continued presence of Turkish Forces patrols near the 
 
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northern edge of the buffer zone remained problematic, she 
worried.  That said, were both sides to gather the requisite 
political will, she thought a compromise was within reach, 
following the precedents and policies established when 
Cyprus's other checkpoints opened. 
 
¶7.  (U) Already, the new mayor had reached out to Turkish 
Cypriot counterpart Mayor Cem Bulutogullari, appearing with 
him on a mid-January Turkish Cypriot television program. 
They had jointly engaged the UNDP to discuss the Nicosia 
Master Plan, a USAID-funded program tapped with restoring 
historically/culturally significant areas of Old Nicosia. 
Day-to-day issues like electricity and sewers too looked ripe 
for inter-municipality cooperation, Mavrou ventured; she had 
tasked her city councilors with engaging their Turkish 
Cypriot counterparts.  European Union monies were available 
for restoring or demolishing structures in the buffer zone, 
and she hoped Bulutogullari and she might demarche the EU 
jointly.  "Semantics" could prove problematic with the Greek 
Cypriot hard-liners and a hindrance to inter-communal 
cooperation, however, should the Turkish side insist on using 
titles, waving the "TRNC" flag, and the like. 
 
Talks on the CyProb:  Slow Going 
-------------------------------- 
 
¶8.  (SBU) The Ambassador opined that, although all sides 
should be pressed to produce progress toward reunification, 
the election calendar in the region worked against major 
movement on the Cyprus Problem in 2007.  Regardless, both 
sides needed to "prepare the ground" for what looked like 
better prospects for 2008 through an immediate kick-off of 
work in the UN's so-called "technical committees" process. 
Mavrou agreed it was time that community negotiators get to 
work.  "Seven months have passed since (UN Political Under 
Secretary Ibrahim) Gambari's visit," she figured, "and the 
 
SIPDIS 
people want a solution."  While the municipality had only 
limited abilities to affect movement, a "grand gesture," like 
Ledra Street's opening, could act as a catalyst.  Commenting 
upon the current environment in the government-controlled 
areas, which is far from pro-solution, Mavrou claimed that, 
since the 1974 conflict, public opinion regarding 
inter-communal contacts had been cyclical and better times 
might arrive soon. It was vital to expand such contacts, she 
thought, targeting rank-and-file from both communities and 
not just elites.  Focusing on practical issues of genuine 
concert to both communities would yield better public 
response than efforts focused on the theoretical need for 
bi-communal rapprochement. 
 
¶9.  (U) Mavrou voiced optimism over improved party-to-party 
contacts.  Her own AKEL had just concluded a fruitful meeting 
with the Turkish Cypriot CTP, Talat's party.  She hoped a 
follow-up gathering would occur shortly, bringing an end to 
the CTP-AKEL cooling-off period that had followed the failed 
2004 referendum. 
 
Comment: 
-------- 
 
¶10.  (SBU) Eleni Mavrou won the top slot in our recent list 
of Cyprus's most influential women, attesting to her 
intelligence, track record, and electability.  From her perch 
at the mayorship, we hope she proves a willing and able 
interlocutor on the CyProb and issues that affect both 
communities, like TIP.  Her fervent support of the 2004 Annan 
Plan makes her damaged goods to some, however, and Benedict 
Arnold to others.  To build the relationships she will need 
to govern effectively, she likely will feel pressure to adopt 
more "centrist" positions, which in the current environment 
mean harder-line stances.  So far, positively, she seems to 
be maintaining her pro-solution stripes.  End Comment. 
SCHLICHER