In Cyprus war

40 years on, last chance saloon for cars abandoned

GMT 13:26 2016 Thursday ,26 May

Arab Today, arab today 40 years on, last chance saloon for cars abandoned

Hundreds of vehicles were abandoned by their Turkish Cypriot owners
Akrotiri Royal Air Force Base - Arab Today

 Antique cars rust under the fierce Cyprus sun beside vintage motorcycles and gutted lorries, stranded for four decades on the wrong side of a dividing line that didn't exist when they were parked.

Around 400 vehicles were abandoned by their Turkish Cypriot owners at Akrotiri -- one of Britain's two sovereign base areas on Cyprus -- after the 1974 Turkish invasion of the island that led to its partition.

After sitting at the Episkopi garrison as successive attempts to unify Cyprus stalled, a new initiative seeks to reunite the vehicles with their original owners.
We need to do something now for those cars. They can't stay here for another 42 years," says Ian Brayshaw, a Briton employed by the base who helped to launch the project a year ago.

Brayshaw has helped to compile a short description of each car, and create a gallery for those looking to be reunited with their old rides.

They have been posted on the administration website of the base areas that Britain retained sovereignty over when Cyprus won independence in 1960.

While the initiative hasn't managed to get a vehicle back to its original owner so far, the project is about more than reclaiming cars.
"A little while ago, we had a gentleman... and he is interested in taking six buses," he says. "He was moved, it was quite an emotional visit."

Dozens of 1960s-era Austins, Dodges and Vauxhalls sit in ragged lines, their metal corroded by years of neglect and ruined bonnets gradually engulfed by weeds.

- 'Bits of history' -
A dilapidated flat-bed truck bears the logo, in peeling letters, of "Chicken Farm" as, metres away, the carcasses of several bright yellow buses -- doors and windows long vanished -- slowly bleach in the heat.

Although the wrecks are now all but unusable -- especially after a fire damaged many of the vehicles in 1991 -- Brayshaw says they constitute "bits of history".

"You see lots of cars but you also find children's toys... someone needs to do something about this now," he adds.

Cyprus has been divided since August 1974, when Turkish troops occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.
Long-stalled UN-brokered peace talks -- seen as the best chance to reunify Cyprus -- began in May 2015, with the leaders meeting regularly since then.

Past attempts to relocate the cars to the Turkish occupied north of the island have failed, yet Brayshaw is optimistic that the current political climate could help the vehicles reach their original owners.

"Today we've got further than we've ever got."

Around 20 people have contacted the website expressing interest in their vehicles. After proving that they are the original owners, they must pay transportation costs, money that Brayshaw intends to use for Turkish Cypriot community projects.

"They are not our vehicles so it's not our money, it's theirs," he says.

Source: AFP

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