A petition has been launched online to convert the abandoned Spitfire coffeeshop at Paphos Gate into a multicultural peace hub.
Nicosia Municipality last week abandoned efforts to shore up the dilapidated building after crews were harrassed by Turkish occupation troops, prompting the government to make representations to UNFICYP.
The petition notes that the Spitfire, once a legendary coffeeshop that was open round the clock and was a meeting place for all Cypriots, Greek-Cypriots, Turkish-Cypriots, Latins, Maronites and Armenians even after the 1963 inter-communal struggle, has been left abandoned and to fall into disrepair because it is in the buffer zone.
“ The recent events of its temporary support by Nicosia Municipality, the reactions of the occupying Turkish army and the involvement of UNFICYP has led us to the conclusion that now is the right time to demand its full regeneration and the opening of the corner road adjacent as a new crossing between the divided parts of Nicosia,” it said.
As is situated on a functioning part of Paphos street, it makes no sense to leave the historic building to collapse, it added.
“Now is the time to act and bring back the social peace hub of Nicosia! The building must be regenerated fully as a coffee shop and the road on the corner must open as a controlled crossing. We propose that UNFICYP takes up the role of monitoring the whole project in cooperation with the owners of the building, the two communities and the local authorities,” the petition reads.
It also notes that the immediate area of the coffee shop is home to churches of the Armenians, the Latins and the Maronites while the monuments, theatres, archaeological museum and public gardens nearby make it into a cultural hub.
The petition is addressed to President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, as well as to UN representative in Nicosia Elizabeth Spehar, Nicosia mayor Constantinos Yiorkadjis and the mayor of the Turkish Cypriot sector of Nicosia Mehmet Harmanci.