By Stefanos Evripidou
ALL THE omens seemed positive last night. Peace was all around when the two leaders gathered with their teams in the Nicosia buffer zone in an effort to overcome the deadlock in the talks.
Just an hour before the informal meeting got started, a few metres away at the Home for Cooperation opposite the Ledra Palace, the Bicommunal Famagusta Initiative announced their intention to push for a series of measures to provide a new impetus to the entire district of Famagusta, both sides of the divide.
Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots from Famagusta signed a declaration calling for the opening of Varosha and the Famagusta port and even called for the walled city of Famagusta to become a UNESCO-protected heritage site.
One of the members, Hulusi Kilim, said they planned to hand over a copy of the declaration to the two leaders.
“We will tell them that the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots of Famagusta are ready to reunite their city and are waiting for you,” said Kilim.
Just opposite the Chateau Status where the talks were being held, the bicommunal Cyprus Academic Dialogue held a cultural event at the Goethe Institute to mark the opening of its conference on the role of education in a multicultural Cyprus.
The bicommunal outfit Dance for Peace made their presence known with their traditional attire. The two leaders were initially pencilled in to open the event, but the death of Glafcos Clerides, which led Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu to call President Nicos Anastasiades, and the latter to invite him for an informal meeting changed things.
As people reminisced at the Home for Cooperation about Famagusta’s celebrated flagship festival of oranges, opposite at the Goethe, people got merry over wine and cheese and Cypriot traditional dance.
And somewhere in the middle, Anastasiades and his entourage arrived in the obligatory black German vehicles.
The doors to the bullet-proof car opened and Anastasiades’ voice could be heard blaring over the car speakers as the radio news played. The president gave a sneaky smile, acknowledging that yes, that was him on the radio, giving a speech somewhere.
Next came Eroglu and his entourage and the talks began.
As the clock ticked, with little else to do, the media speculation fluctuated between seeing the time passing as a good ‘omen’ to a bad one and back again.
They were told that dinner was not on the card but that if talks dragged on, then food would be prepared.
With boredom setting in after two hours of waiting, journalists pounced on the owner of the establishment who popped out briefly, questioning him on whether dinner was being prepared.
Another questioned whether there was mistletoe above the entrance door of the Chateau Status which was adorned by Christmas lights and whether the two leaders would take advantage of it to inject some much needed love to the process.
Meanwhile, back at the Goethe, a group of teenagers came out for some fresh air. One who saw all the lights and cameras asked: “What’s going on here, is there a wedding?”
A jaded journalist who overheard replied: “Sure, we’re gonna marry Anastasiades and Eroglu.”
In the end, the most useful collaboration of the night came after the leaders left, as Turkish Cypriot journalists helped translate to their Greek Cypriot counterparts what Eroglu said and vice-versa for Anastasiades.