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Athalassa Avenue likely to get a name change.

Byline: Stefanos Evripidou

A DIKO proposal to honour the late President Tassos Papadopoulos by renaming Nicosia's Athalassa Avenue in his name has got the Strovolos municipality in a twist.

In a strange turn of circumstances, the proposal has got the full backing of DISY's municipal councillors but not that of AKEL or the Strovolos Mayor while EDEK is sitting on the fence. The newly-formed local alliance between coalition partner DIKO and opposition DISY is seen by some as a testing ground for a future partnership in the next presidential elections.

The issue first came to light when DIKO's Strovolos municipal councillors wrote a letter to the mayor Savvas Eliofotou asking that Athalassa Avenue, the main artery leading to Limassol Avenue and the highway, be renamed Tassos Papadopoulos Avenue.

DIKO councillors raised the issue again during last Tuesday night's Management Committee meeting asking for immediate discussion of the proposed name change. A vote on the matter saw DISY's four councillors side with DIKO's three plus a Greens councillor, totalling eight in favour of the proposal, leaving three against (the mayor and two AKEL councillors) and one abstention (EDEK).

Given the new alliances in the council, any vote at the next municipal council meeting, scheduled for early next month, will most likely lead to a majority vote in favour of the name change. DISY and DIKO combined have 16 councillors in a 26-member council plus the mayor.

According to Eliofotou, the matter was not handled with the appropriate seriousness, while not enough effort was made to find alternative ways of honouring the name of Papadopoulos.

"How can you honour Tassos Papadopoulos with a majority vote? Does that sound right to you? Those coming up with these ideas should have taken a more serious approach," he said.

"We all agreed on honouring Tassos Papadopoulos but the question is how? When you change a street name, there are consequences on businesses. Also, there are reasons for giving streets names, so we have to weigh up the pros and cons.

"I proposed at the meeting that we name a new avenue after him. Work will soon start on a new avenue which will begin opposite the Public Works Department and go all the way up to the Apollonion hospital," said Eliofotou.

The mayor also suggested that the Strovolos Municipal Theatre could be named after the former president, who died last December, as it was the first building opened by Papadopoulos as president.

"I had one of the best relations with Tassos Papadopoulos and honoured him when he was alive, as he did me. I don't have to prove my love for him. But would we honour him less if we named the theatre after him?" he asked.

Eliofotou noted that there were people who loved Papadopoulos and those who opposed him: "It was a recent death, and the issue will cause a reaction. Whole generations were born and raised on that avenue. It is full of commercial businesses and residences."

DISY leader in the Strovolos municipal council, Andreas Papacharalambous, told the Mail that Papadopoulos was one of a handful of historic figures in Cyprus. As such, despite prior differences between DISY and the former president, the councillors supported DIKO's name change proposal with the full knowledge of the DISY leadership.

Asked about alternative proposals, Papacharalambous said it was not befitting of the man's legacy to name an avenue that has yet to be built after the late president. The DISY councillor also noted that every historic figure in Cyprus' recent past has been divisive to some extent but that this did not prevent the Republic from honouring its leaders.

Asked why there was no prior consultation with local residents, Papacharalambous maintained that he had conducted his own survey and found that people were mostly positive about it. "Some people were concerned about their correspondence, but we will give a one-year notice where both names run parallel instead of the usual six months, and the post office will automatically send all letters to the new address indefinitely," he said.

The close cooperation of DIKO and DISY over the name change of a vital road in the capital is seen by some as a testing ground for future cooperation between the two parties in lieu of potential collaboration in the next presidential elections.

It also bodes well for DISY when it comes to honouring their own party leaders and former presidents.

Copyright Cyprus Mail 2009

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Sep 25, 2009
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