Limassol locks out the Queen

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The Independent Online
LIMASSOL (Reuter) - Leaders of the Cypriot town of Limassol bowed to local pressure and agreed yesterday not to honour the Queen with a key to the city. Instead, the ancient city, desperate to avoid an outright insult to the Queen while it hosts a meeting of Commonwealth leaders, decided to offer her a commemorative plaque.

The issue of the keys has deeply split Limassol and the Cypriot capital of Nicosia.

Nicosia councillors agreed by a narrow margin to give the symbolic key to the Queen, prompting noisy protests by Greek Cypriots when she received it yesterday.

Greek Cypriots have a three-fold dilemma with the Queen's visit, the first by a British monarch since Richard the Lionheart was shipwrecked on the island in the 12th century. They blame her for not pardoning nine Eoka insurgents hanged by Britain during a war of independence in the 1950s; they argue Britain has done litte to push Turkish troops out of the north since the 1974 invasion and they question the presence of British military bases on the island.

Greek Cypriots jeered the Queen during her visit to the divided city of Nicosia yesterday. Scores of protesters yelled: 'We don't want you here', whistled and chanted slogans from the 1950s independence struggle at a ceremony to present her with the key to the city. Earlier, police used tear-gas to disperse dozens of schoolchildren to clear a road for the Queen.

The mayor of Nicosia, Lellos Demetriades, told the Queen during the ceremony: 'The city has the unenviable title of the last divided capital in Europe.'

From a rooftop the Queen peered across barbed wire and shell- smashed houses into the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot republic, whose people, including the fugitive financier Asil Nadir, remain Commonwealth citizens.

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