President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci are due to meet informally on Thursday for the first time since Monday’s furore over the latter’s presence at an international UN event in Istanbul and his meeting with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The fuss led to the cancellation of their scheduled meeting last Friday. Though the situation was defused by then, no new meeting has been set as yet. Anastasiades will be in Luxembourg from later Sunday until Tuesday night.
Both leaders will on Thursday attend the first event organised by the bicommunal technical committee on education that they set up. It will take place at the Home for Cooperation in the Green Line in Nicosia with the participation of students from the two communities.
The Greek Cypriot president of the committee Michalinos Zempylas told the Cyprus News Agency the event would involve 50 students from each side aged 11-12.
Beginning at 8am, the children will be divided into small mixed groups and each group will go through workshops on theatre, music, art and traditional games. Each workshop will be run by a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot teacher experienced in bi-communal workshops.
The two leaders, accompanied by their wives, are expected to arrive at around 11am and will visit the various workshops and talk to the. The event will end at 12.15pm.
Zempylas, this was the first event being held by the committee as a pilot scheme.
“Our approach is step by step, try some pilot programmes to see where there are weaknesses and then improve these before going to the next step,” he said.
Children, he said, would speak in their native language, while the two teachers will translate for them where necessary.
“But at this stage it is not so much speech plays a role,” he said. “Children always find ways to understand each other, sometimes better than adults where language in our experience doesn’t have to be an obstacle, and the nature of the activities we choose, ie games etc., do not require such high language requirements that it will make it difficult for the children to communicate,” he added.
One of the objectives is to help them understand that the two communities share many common words, shared songs and games.