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Students march in support of federal solution on UDI anniversary, far-right holds counter protest

University and high school students on Tuesday held protest marches in all districts against the 1983 unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) in the north, and pledged their support for the settlement negotiations, calling for a solution.

The main events organised by high school students’ body Psem and university students’ federation Pofen, took place in Nicosia, where protesters marched from the Famagusta Gate moat to the Orpheas barrier on the Green Line.

A delegation of students delivered a memo to members of the peacekeeping force (Unficyp) at the barrier. In the memo, students called for a settlement of the Cyprus problem on the basis of a bicommunal, bi-zonal federation, and political equality.

The solution should be one that is “fully compatible with the European Union’s acquis and that fully restores the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots, under the principles of democracy and the rule of law,” the memo said.

Students called for the commencement of a substantial dialogue as regards the settlement negotiations.

“Efforts [for a settlement] are conducted in a framework of confusion and uncertainty,” said the head of Pofen, Christos Stroppos.

He added that even though there was goodwill on behalf of the Greek Cypriot side, the key to the solution was Turkey which remained intransigent. Stroppos said that Turkish troops should leave the island, “if possible, even before a solution is reached”.

“A substantial dialogue must commence and some political forces should stop taking advantage of the Cyprus problem so that they can perpetuate their political presence, by denouncing positions and opportunistically adopting other (positions),” Stroppos said.

In his turn, the head of Psem, Zaphiris Demetriou, said that the solution could not wait and that students supported the negotiations process.

“The Greek Cypriot side must stand united and support the negotiations process,” Demetriou said.

He added that the partition of the island was not a solution but rather “a death sentence of the Cyprus people”.

Student events were also held in Larnaca, Limassol, Famagusta and Paphos.

The head of the University of Technology’s student union (Fetepak), which participated in the protest march in Limassol, Michalis Christodoulou, said that they condemned the illegal declaration of independence of the regime in the north, and that the new generation would not settle for the idea of the island’s partition.

He added that students upped their struggle for the island’s reunification in cooperation with Turkish Cypriot groups.

Students marched along central roads of their towns with banners and chanting slogans such as “Cyprus belongs to its people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots,” “Turkish troops out of Cyprus” and for a “United, federal Cyprus”.

Elam protesters (Christos Theodorides)
Elam protesters (Christos Theodorides)

No problems were reported during separate marches by some 500 members of the youth branch of the far-right party Elam, who marched from Makarios Avenue to the Ledra Palace checkpoint in Nicosia.

The head of the party’s youth branch, Sotiris Ioannou, said that Elam would not allow the “sell out” of the country.

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